The king had had a dream. "You looked, O King, and there before you stood a large statue an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace" (Dan. 2:31-35).
Imagine gold, silver, bronze, and iron turning to windblown chaff right before your eyes. Imagine watching and feeling the lonely desert wind eroding away the rubble from this enormous awesome image turning it to swirling dust.
Com´pro·mise, n.3. The result or embodiment of concession or adjustment; hence, a thing intermediate between, or blending qualities of, two different things.Webster's Dictionary
What was it that vaporized this valuable statue? Compromise a mixture of things that don't mix. The feet of iron and clay were the vulnerable spot of this image, causing even the strongest and most impressive of metals to disintegrate to dust.
I've been wondering lately, How much of what is good, strong, and true do we place on feet of compromise? How much of what we are building stands on feet of iron and clay?
That's a difficult question to answer because compromise is so hard to detect. It's slippery, illusive. It conceals itself in the highest places and wraps its evil tentacles around the bedrock of truth. It disguises itself with good intention and, when uncovered, it excuses itself repeatedly with fatalistic cries of helplessness.
Compromise is primarily a heart issue and this is what makes it so hard to discover. How do we examine the heart? Most of us are pretty much in the dark about our own heart, much less anyone else's. Paul the Apostle declared, "I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself" (1 Cor. 4:3). He goes on to say that he leaves the final judgment to God, the only true examiner of the heart.
Does that mean we leave compromise entirely untouched? Do we hope for the best and naively assume that everyone who calls himself a Christian acts out of deep and unquestionable integrity of heart?
I think no. Although none of us is in a place to call it into question our own heart and anyone else's.
I watched a TV documentaray recently on the plight of the American farmer. It was a case study of one typical farm family whose story has been repeated thousands of times across middle America.
Their situation was fairly easy to understand. Opportunists had convinced farmers to increase output for a huge international market big profits for everyone. Farmers bought the idea, stretched themselves financially and borrowed to the hilt to prepare crops for the world. But trade embargoes and foreign policy shifts swiftly slammed the international door shut, and farmers were left with huge credit deficits and nowhere to turn. Now, despite government subsidies and farm aid, loan recalls and foreclosures are rapidly turning the farm industry into a modern dinosaur.
To make matters worse, we've discovered we can import food from other countries more cheaply than we can buy it from our own farmers. And, of course, since the profit margin is ultimately the basis for most decisions, we buy the cheaper product. But while we import food, we drive our own farmers out of business.
I watched in disbelief as the Secretary of Agriculture addressed these problems on national television. When the case of the farm family in the documentary was placed before him for comment, he first asked weakly, "Have they tried all our programs?" When the response was in the affirmative, he then came up with this classic iron-and-clay-foot response, "Well, they were just born at the wrong time." I couldn't believe I was hearing this!
What if David had said that to the fighting men of Israel whose families had been carried away by the Amalekites? "Well, sorry guys, there's nothing we can do. You were just born at the wrong time."
I would have loved to see that bureaucrat rise up at his desk, lean into the camera, and say with all the conviction he could muster, "To tell you the truth, I don't know what we're going to do, but I pledge you one thing: I'm not going to stand by and do nothing while thousands of families lose their homes and farms. I don't know what I'm going to do, but I'm willing to lose my job to do whatever I can to change this deplorable situation."
Had he done that, there would have been at least one person standing and cheering in front of his TV set.
Neil Young began his search years ago for a heart of gold.
I've been to Hollywood
I've been to Redwood
I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold
I've been in my mind, it's such a fine line
That keeps me searching for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old*
We're all getting old, if not in years, then old in hope and longing for true-hearted people. But I'm realizing that a true
heart isn't even enough. It's not enough to have a heart of gold. That heart has got to stand on feet that are made of the same stuff, feet that follow that heart, that carry out its convictions. If we're going to be true, we've got to be true all the way through. A heart of gold has got to be carried along by feet of gold in order not to be blown away.
* Words and music by Neil Young. Copyright 1971, Silver Fiddle-ASCAP.
Chapter 22 || Table of Contents