Hi friends! I am so excited to be back over here with you guys. I’ve taken a short break from blogging to re-evaluate some things and get a clearer idea on where I want this blog to go, but I am glad to be back!
I’m also so excited to share with you that I have been asked to be a part of the Creative Team for Sweet N Sassy stamps and contribute to their Creative Worship blog! As such, I will be duplicating those posts over here for those that are not following them (although you should be!). You can also find me on Instagram and Facebook @lifeintherace.
God’s timing never ceases to amaze me. I created this page several weeks ago after I had a few rough weeks of homeschooling, mothering and wife-ing. The Chris Tomlin song “Jesus” was stuck in my head and the words to the song were comforting to my soul in that Jesus was always with me, standing in the fire of life right beside me. Little did I know that by the time I would publish this blog post I would be knee-deep into the February Creative Retreat Kit (centered around Daniel 3) or that the week before a dear family in our community would suffer an unimaginable loss due to a house fire.
The words that I felt the Lord speak to me about a year ago echoed in my head. Just tell your story.
First, come with me to Daniel 3.
Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, better known to us as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were three young boys who were taken captive to Babylon, along with Daniel. They were forced into the Babylonian culture and told that they had to learn the literature, the language and the religion. They were forced to assimilate but they drew the line when it came to food and to worship. They held on to the integrity that they were taught and refused to serve the Babylonian gods or bow down to the statue that King Nebuchadezzar had erected. They made a very bold, very well-known declaration to the king: “our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the fiery furnace…but if not, be it known to you, O King, that we will not bow down to your gods.” Their refusal to bow down enraged the King and he punished them by subjecting them to the fiery furnace, heated seven times hotter than the norm. But the story doesn’t end there. When the king looked up, he didn’t just see Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fire. He saw FOUR people. Unbound. Walking around, unscathed in the fire. Unaffected by the heat. Unwavering in their belief. He beckoned them to come out – and they did…unsinged. Their clothes didn’t even smell like smoke. And his reaction? Wait for it…. He WORSHIPPED their God. And he called all the Babylonians to do the same!
Whoa! Talk about bold faith here. Who in their right mind would stand up to the KING of Babylon?!? But these guys did. And what did they get? A crispy introduction to the king’s fury. But what’s even more amazing? Because of their unwavering faith, the king himself bowed down to the God of the Hebrews. The Most High God. El Elyon. Because you see, their belief in their God was bigger than the fire that threatened to consume them. They weren’t worried about death. In fact, they could probably claim as Paul would years later that “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) And because of their faith, their lives were changed forever, as well as those around them.
There’s a couple of things that I want you to remember about this story.
1. God allows the fire
God could have easily stepped in with a miracle and stopped the fiery furnace situation for Shadrach and his companions. But He didn’t. He let it come. His plan went far beyond what they could see. Because of their fire, a city was turned toward the Lord. Hearts were inclined toward the true Rescuer. They held on to their faith, and you know what? God showed up. Right in the middle of the fire with them. Think about that for a second. They didn’t even see God until they were already in the fire. So even though He allowed it, He was also there standing with them.
Fires are going to come. Relationships are going to struggle. Jobs are going to end. Medical situations are going to happen. But we have to hang on to Romans 8:28 that says that “all things work for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Does that mean all things will BE good? No. But we have to have faith in the fact that all things will WORK for good. All things have a purpose. EVERYTHING happens in its own season. Unfortunately many things happen that we can’t explain and we are left wondering why. This side of heaven, we may never understand. But we have to be okay with that, because someday we will.
2. The fire is not going to consume you
Oh, it’s going to feel like it. And sometimes you may even get a little weary…but you will not be consumed. Take a look at Isaiah 43:1-2: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” (emphasis mine).
I could camp out here for a while, you guys. I could tell you all about my story. About how I got shingles at 37 weeks pregnant, suffered from nerve damage and then had spinal fusion surgery…all in the span of about 8 weeks. I could tell you about my scare with lymphoma. I could tell you about all the lies that I believed from Satan about my worth as a mom and a wife. I could tell you about being stuck in a pit of sin with seemingly no way out. I could tell you about my shortcomings as a Christian, but mostly, I can tell you about my God. How He is faithful. How He delivered me. How even though I was nearly burning up in that fire, He was there and He saw me out. Oh, I got scarred alright. In fact, I have two gorgeous ones adorning either side of my lumbar spine, but I have more life in me right now than I ever dreamed possible. If there’s one thing that I can promise you, it’s that the fire that you’re walking through right now is not going to consume you, it’s going to refine you. I know it hurts, and it might for a while, but hang on. God’s not done yet.
3. Our reaction to the fire is life-changing
The faith of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego turned the heart of the king to worship. The way they stood up to the king and the way they declared their trust in the Lord was a powerful influence on all of Babylon. The way that we respond to our fires can point people to or away from the Lord. It’s ok to get weary. It’s ok to be frustrated. It’s ok if we question why. Our world is broken. Things are going to happen that we don’t understand. But what’s more important is that we don’t lose faith in the God who can deliver. Fires are part of our story. They are made to change us. They are made to help us grow and strengthen our faith. And in turn, if we stay steadfast, we will be able to say as David, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:1-3).
It’s all about Him. Everything that we face is designed to bring glory to the Father. So whether it’s the fire of your marriage, the fire of parenting a difficult child or a myriad of other fires that we face in this life we can always, ALWAYS have the hope that Jesus is there, standing in the fire beside you and giving you a story to tell.
Have a great weekend, friends!
To begin this page, I found the image of a fire that I liked and traced it onto my page. I outlined it with a black Pitt Pen and then watercolored the image with various tones of yellow, orange and red. I then used Texture Tiles 1 with Fired Brick Distress Oxide to add some embers to the fire. The words are stamped with Love Ya Like a Sister Alpha and Marquee Caps Alpha. The word “fire” was stamped with a mix of Fossilized Amber, Spiced Marmalade andFired Brick Oxides and then cut out and glued to the page. I finished the page with a few sentiments from Faith Wordfetti, a tab, date stamp and prayer.