When you are walking in the fire



"So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell into the roaring flames." ~Daniel 3:23

I was recently watching a documentary with my daughters about two college boys who left the comforts of home to spend two months living in a third world country on an average third world salary.  While that alone was eye opening, I was drawn to the story of one man, 24 years old with a wife, 3 children and elderly family members he was responsible for.  This family lived in what most of us here in the U.S. would consider deplorable conditions.

They all lived in a one room home.  He was among the "rich" in his community because he had a job cleaning in a local hotel and thus had a steady, although meager, income.  They had saved and been able to purchase a stove for the house rather than cook over an open fire but school for their children was not something they could afford at $25 per child.  Despite all of the difficulties, and yes he did recognize and struggle with the difficulties, he appeared to be always cheerful.  He usually had a smile on his face and was quick to help those in his community with not only knowledge, or physical help, but even financially - despite the burden it put on his own family.  And I wondered....how was this man - who had so little in the world - able to maintain that joy?

Many of you know the story of Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego;  Three young men taken captive from their homeland with Daniel to go live in Babylon.  They were trained up in the ways of the people and expected to serve the royalty.  These boys remained strong in their faith and true to God despite all they were surrounded with.  When things got hard, when they faced the fires, they didn't waver.  This, I think, is where so many of us fail - myself included.

When things get hot, when we face the fire, we begin to question God.  We begin to shake our fist or bow our heads in defeat.  Whereas Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego stood tall and declared that either God would save them, because they knew it was within His power to do so, or He wouldn't. (Daniel 3:17-18) Either way they would not be swayed from doing what they knew God had asked of them.  WOW!  Personally this is the point that I am questioning if I really heard Him.  After all, it wouldn't be so difficult if I were walking the path He chose, would it?

The king then had them bound and tossed into the fire.  Not just any fire, but one that was so hot that when they were being led to it, their guards bust into flames.  (Daniel 3:22)  This was a trial that even the strongest person, without God, could not withstand and yet these three boys had accepted their fate.  In this instance, God chose to display His power to those observing.
“Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!" ~Daniel 3:25
The faith that these young men had not only saved them from the fire, it released them from their bonds.  I believe that this is the mystery of the fullness of joy that God calls us to.  (Psalm 16:11)  Sometimes, the fires we are called to walk through  are there to unbind us from the things that keep us captive.  So I ask you, what keeps you bound today?  Is it a fixation on the things of this world?  Are you tied up by the pursuit of things? of money? of prestige?  If you feel like you are in the fire, perhaps you need to examine yourself and see if God is trying to release you from bondage. If so, is your faith strong enough to willingly step into the furnace?

Maybe, this is what the man in the third world country had discovered.  

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