In Hawaii, you can stand in the sunshine and see a pocket of rain across the street. There's a certain woman in Covington County, Alabama, just like that---pure sunshine with an unexpected shower. Let me explain.
Last year when Evelyn Larigan turned 89, the spry woman decided to celebrate her birthday with a cake after church for the congregation.
“But, Mom,” her daughter Linda Bundrick said, “you know I’ll be gone that week.”
“Yes,” Evelyn answered. “And we’ll miss you.”
She’s fun—ask anyone who knows Evelyn. The mere sound of her name elicits a grin.
Last week she celebrated her 90th birthday---90 being the new 70. At her party, the great stories of her life came out like the time her husband sent her to get boxes from IGA, which had a huge plate glass window all across the front. Evelyn crashed into the store.
“But you didn’t actually go through that window?” I asked her niece, Genie Loggins, who was with her and about eight at the time.
“Oh, yes,” Genie said. “We cleaned that out.”
A distraught Evelyn immediately called her husband John.
“Okay,” he said, “But did you get the boxes?”
Obviously, Evelyn had married her match.
And then there was the time she asked her grandson to look out the window to make sure she was in the parking space.
“Yes,” he said.
She heard him and promptly rolled up the window catching his head—“the guillotine incident,” as he described it.
Her son Bruce said when the family went on a ski trip, Evelyn stayed in the room. That night they watched Jeopardy, and Evelyn somehow knew every answer. Only later did they learn she’d watched the 4:30 show.
After John’s death, the schoolteacher married Bill Larigan, a romantic at heart. One morning, he left her a love letter and came home to find it on the table—corrected in red ink.
To know Evelyn Larigan is to love her.
God felt the same way about a certain man in the Bible. The angel Gabriel isn’t around very much in Scripture, but he does visit one person in the Old Testament. Gabriel tells him, “You are greatly beloved.”
Know who that is? Here’s a hint: His name is on an Old Testament book.
The man is called “greatly beloved” a second time, the only two times in Scripture that this happens. Many theologians think it’s Christ who speaks this time. (Daniel 9:23, 8:16-17, 9:21,10:11)
The man is Daniel. But what do we know about him?
It’s roughly 605 B.C. when King Nebuchadnezzar conquers Jerusalem. Daniel is a young Hebrew, probably of noble birth, taken captive to Babylon. He’ll live out his life there, some 70 years. He’s a handsome youth and fortunate to begin his captivity in service in King Nebuchadnezzar’s palace.
Like Joseph in Egypt over 1,000 years earlier, Daniel rises to power by interpreting the king’s dream when no one else can do so. Pharaoh puts Joseph in charge of Egypt, and Nebuchadnezzar places Daniel over the province of Babylon. Both men remember to tell their rulers that God showed them the interpretation, which brings national reverence to God. (Genesis 41:14-41, Daniel 2:25-48)
It’s Daniel who famously reads the handwriting on the wall the night the Babylonians are overthrown. (Daniel 5)
When King Darius puts Daniel over the whole realm, jealous politicians plot to get rid of him. They persuade the king to pass a law forbidding prayer to God for 30 days. Daniel openly defies the edict and ends up in the lions’ den. It’s there that God rescues him. (Daniel 6:1-23)
Daniel’s righteousness stands out in the Bible (Ezekiel 14:13-14), and God makes clear that such faithfulness is the reason his prayers are heard.
“From the first day that you set your heart to understand… your words were heard.” (Daniel 10:12) Daniel prayed, and God turned His Head to listen.
Just as South Alabama's beloved Evelyn Larigan can bring a smile to everyone around her, the greatly beloved Daniel surely brought a smile to the face of God. Be that person—live such a holy life that when you pray, God turns His Head to listen.
Copyright © 2019 R. A. Mathews The Rev. R. A. Mathews is a national freelance faith columnist and the author of “Reaching to God.” She can be reached at letters@RAMathews.com