March 12, 2013

But Even if He Does Not...

They were three young men gifted with wisdom and knowledge and blessed with the favor of a King. They held positions of power and leadership and were fully and deeply devoted to their God. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were their names and I can't get their story out of my mind.

They, along with all other nations and people of their kingdom, were ordered by King Nebuchadnezzar to fall and bow down in worship to an enormous golden statue he'd made whenever the sound of music was heard. Anyone who did not obey the King's decree and worship his golden god would be thrown into a blazing, fiery furnace.

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Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, however, were not concerned with the King's orders and refused to bow before his giant statue of gold. They were determined to worship only their God, the one true God, and no other. The King was furious when he heard of their defiance and he demanded that they be brought before him. He said to them...

“Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” ~Daniel 3:14-15

And the young men replied...

King Nebuchadnezzar, 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.” ~vs. 16-18


Absolutely amazing.

I marvel at the courage and faith of these three, their tenacity and strength, even in the face of certain death. They were not intimidated by the King, nor were they afraid of what he might do to them, and under no circumstances would they even consider bowing before his statue. They trusted in their God, confident in his power to deliver them and certain he would.

Though I'm blown away by their response to the king, it's these six words that are stunning to me...

"But even if he does not"

Though Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew God could and would deliver them, they also recognized that he may choose not to. They understood that God often acts in mysterious ways... in ways we can't predict or in ways we don't understand. But they were determined, whether God rescued them or not, to worship no other god but him and him alone. Their faith and trust and hope was completely unwavering in spite of what was before them and in spite of what God might do with them.

Life sometimes plays out differently than I think it's going to and hope it will. Though I know God is fully and completely in control, I'm often surprised and sometimes even disappointed in how my story unfolds. I know God will come through for me, that's settled in my heart, but I also know he may not come through in the ways I hope and dream he will. In those times, I want to have the same firm and fixed faith that these three men had and respond with equal courage, strength and resolve. I don't want to bow to the god of discouragement and despair, nor to the god of fear and lost hope. I want to continue to put my confidence and hope in Christ, who has the power to come through for me and will come through for me, even if his deliverance looks nothing like I think or hope it will.

"Jesus, you have my heart and I trust you with my life. If the path that's unfolding before me looks nothing like I think or hope it will, I will not bow to the god of discouragement and despair, nor to the god of lost hopes and dreams. I will bow to you and you alone, continuing to trust you fully with my heart and story. I know you have the power to come through for me and I am confident you will, and I freely and gladly accept and embrace whatever that looks like."

He can move the mountains 
My God is mighty to save 
He is mighty to save
Author of Salvation 
He rose & conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

~from the song "Mighty to Save" by Hillsong United


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