One of the best stories of faith in the bible from my perspective happens to fall in the book of Daniel chapter three. Three guys named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are in a time where King Nebuchadnezzar has made a decree that at the sound of the triumphant they are to bow down and worship the gold idol the king has made. He was pretty serious about it saying that whoever didn’t bow down would be thrown into the fiery furnace. These three guys didn’t bow down and the king got word of it and he was pretty furious. He summoned them and they all had a chat. Turns out these guys were pretty hard core for the Lord God. King Nebuchadnezzar told them if they would bow down things would be all good but if not, then they were to be thrown into the furnace and then the king questioned their God asking something along the lines of, “who would be able to save you if I throw you in the furnace?” They responded simply, “we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up (Daniel 3.16-18).”
The king got pretty mad and turned up the temperature of the furnace so hot that the soldiers that threw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the furnace died on the spot. After they had been thrown in the king got up to look and saw four men in the furnace instead of the just the three he had thrown in.
Four…hmmmm. According to what I read the story said Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (thats three men) that were thrown in. Weird?! Well, to no surprise this story is about faith and faith includes God. God was there in the furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and no one in the furnace was burned. Not a hair was singed nor any of their outfits showed signs of being near fire nor did they smell like fire either. The king ordered them out and everything from there changed. The king changed his decree and made it against those who said anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Anyone who went against them would be cut up into pieces and their houses turned into rubble.
Thats pretty extreme I would say.
What do I get from that?
God moves in our faith. These three guys had such extreme faith that they believed that God would deliver them from the furnace and even if God didn’t save them they weren’t worried and surely they wouldn’t bow down to the king and his idol.
I remember back in the day when I was attending Santa Rosa for some junior college I was talking to a friend of mine and I had just read this story and I was telling him I wanted this kind of faith in my life. Well years later and things haven’t changed, I still want it.
Sundays are my favourite day of the week. I get to spend time with a lot of people, but my favourites are the little bundles of joy that come to Sunday School. My heart skips a beat or two when I see many of them. Its like you’ve fallen in love with someone and that person takes your breath away, you feel like you could fly. These kids are pure joy. They smile, they laugh, they tell you stories of their week and they love on you because you love on them. We happen to be doing the stories of Daniel currently and it just blows my mind what these kids know at their age about God and His word and the stories in the Bible. When I was there age I had no clue. Being a leader I see all that I have been missing out on. A lot of these kids seem to already have the faith that I want. They teach me every Sunday more and more about the God who created us and loves us.
Life has been quite crazy these past few months so many things have changed and are still changing. The one thing that is consistent is the love God has for me, for us. Even when I don’t see it or feel it. I’m reminded that God is there. Whether it be through the many one-on-ones or men’s groups I seek out or simply a friend from a different world with a bit of encouragement, God seems to still be speaking even when the voices in my head seem to be getting louder. Taking time out to listen is always hard, but knowing that He wants to speak gives me more reason to listen. “Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God, But only he who sees takes off his shoes; The rest sit round and pluck blackberries (Elizabeth Barrett Browning).” Many experienced God speaking to them in the Old and New Testaments in various ways and we see that by reading God’s word. God showed us the many ways He speaks than and is still speaking even today.
Faith is crazy. Believing in something you can’t see. With faith as small as a mustard seed the Bible says you can move mountains. Then there is having the extreme faith to keep you from burning up in a furnace when thrown in by a nasty king. Its all real. Faith seems crazy but its so very real and God blesses those who live in it.
I believe in a lot of things, God being the biggest one and the truest thing. He created this world, He created me, He created my friends and family, the people I love and enjoy and the little ones I enjoy every Sunday. He also created the people I pass by on the street or in random events in life. He created the planet earth we call home and everything in it. He has a plan and a path and a journey for all of us no matter where we are at or what we have been through or are currently going through and its big. We just have to have the faith to believe and wait patiently for it.
James 1.2-7 is something that has been speaking to me in these times of hardship and trials. I’m supposed to consider it pure joy the trials and hardship?! That seems a bit out of the ordinary to me. Just as out of the ordinary as knowing I will be thrown into a fiery furnace for my faith and the potential of not surviving happens. I can’t imagine what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thinking knowing the furnace was heated up seven times the normal amount and they were going in. But its clear to me that their faith never wavered. Just as James talks about having joy in the trials, I am trying to have the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to know that there is a plan and God is working and and that I can get through the tomorrow’s without losing it.
Joy comes in many forms. An encouraging friend, a meeting with someone you look up too, a favourite food, a smile from someone you enjoy or the laugh of a little one as you walk them up a slide and then slide down with them over and over. Or in the even simpler things like the seasons and the leaves all over the place or the weather or the sound of the rain and the smell it brings. Finding joy can be hard, but knowing its out there somewhere is such a great place to begin.
God is joy and a song by Rend Collective called “My Lighthouse” has been reminding me of that. In the darkness lighthouses lead the ships safe to shore without crashing into the bank and being destroyed. Without lighthouses along coasts ships would constantly be crashing into things and sinking. Without God as our lighthouse we crash and sink too. God is our lighthouse and we only need to remember to look for the light in all the darkness.