Have you and I done any lately? Can you name yours? Would you classify them as feats, deeds, acts, undertakings, larks or even stunts? Modern translations modify the idea by having God’s people be strong and take action. Unquestionably, Satan’s last-ditch offensives as his end time draws near, call for brave resistance and taking a stand.
As a quirky wordsmith, I like that “exploits” is not a conventionally “churchy” word, thus forcing me to think outside the box. Actually, the key word in Daniel 11:32 is “know,” and I love its Hebrew origin of “yada.” Forget the yada yada of mindless chatter popularized on Seinfeld in the 90s. My favorite clue comes from Genesis 4:1 where Adam “knew” Eve, and as a result they had a baby. He had intimate “yada” knowledge of his wife, and thus we can legitimately conclude that Daniel is stressing this: The people who do know their God intimately shall be strong and do exploits. Mere knowledge “about” God is devoid of discernment and power for any spiritual action.
Two “outside the box” kind of exploits have popped into my head. God brought a young couple from Idi Amin’s Uganda into my life at Hollywood Pres. When they invited me to their house church, I found the place jumping with exuberantly worshipful African charismatics. I promptly wanted to crawl into a hole – think Swiss cheese – because I shrank back into my conspicuously reserved native Lutheran Swissness, and stayed there. When Phoebe’s teenaged sister was spirited out of Uganda, she drowned in a neighbor’s pool three weeks later. My sister in Christ was highly pregnant with risk factors, so I kept vigil at the hospital on her behalf for a tense week. I exchanged hellos with the friends who popped in and out in various stages of agitation. This reached its climax when visitors on their lunch break conspired to pray for Salome’s resurrection, hoping to convert her Jewish doctor. Phoebe and I held her hand when life support was ended and softly sang hymns and recited Scripture, until she was at home with Jesus.
It was at that church also that I spoke at a Women’s Luncheon. Gladys urged me to sit with her. She was still a looker at 90 and we struck up an amazing friendship. In time I learned that as a widow, she had stumbled into a marriage with a geriatric sex maniac, who humiliated her nightly. She could tell no one, because her friends considered her lucky to live in a fine house with a doctor, her childhood friend from back east. When he used acid to fix her “frigidity,” I sprang into action. First, I took her to a divorce lawyer, then located her sons in Nevada, and aided the “abduction” while the fiend was absent. When he refused to turn over tax records, I telephoned and said I was on my way to his house, so please get them ready. He did, and when the final court appearance had ended, his ex and I offered a pitiable, visibly shrunk old man a ride home, which he gratefully accepted. I flew to Reno for a joyous reunion before Gladys died of the cancer he had refused to treat. Her amazingly evangelical kin, all seasoned casino workers, had led her to Christ and cheered when Gladys asked to be baptized. The fellowship I was privileged to experience at her bedside was a foretaste of heaven.