Wow, I want to just start out today with a huge THANK YOU for all of the beautiful messages of joy and excitement at the news of Steven and my engagement last Thursday!
We read every single comment — all 360+ of them!! And we couldn’t have been more touched and moved by the love and kindness shown by this beautiful community on here. So thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We are so grateful!
It’s been a real juxtaposition walking through such joy, while simultaneous walking through a season of such sorrow. I’ve alluded to this recently, and I’m not going to go into it to respect privacy, but these last several months have really been an exercise in faith. And I shared what’s been on my heart in an article I recently published for another website.
As many of you know I am a writer for WINE ministries. And I was published this past Wednesday, and I wanted to share the full article here, as it was edited down on their platform. The article has to do with the Bible passage about Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego — so I have included that brief Scripture passage below, before the article, as a bit of a refresher as to what the heck I’m referencing.
But basically, it is a glimpse into how I’ve been navigating this road I am currently walking. And hopefully, it will give you the same encouragement, as it has been giving me.
King Nebuchadnezzar said:
“Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
that you will not serve my god,
or worship the golden statue that I set up?
Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made,
whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet,
flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe,
and all the other musical instruments;
otherwise, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace;
and who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar,
“There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you
in this matter.
If our God, whom we serve,
can save us from the white-hot furnace
and from your hands, O king, may he save us!
But even if he will not, know, O king,
that we will not serve your god
or worship the golden statue that you set up.”
King Nebuchadnezzar’s face became livid with utter rage
against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than usual
and had some of the strongest men in his army
bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
and cast them into the white-hot furnace.
Nebuchadnezzar rose in haste and asked his nobles,
“Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?”
“Assuredly, O king,” they answered.
“But,” he replied, “I see four men unfettered and unhurt,
walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God.”
“Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,
who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him;
they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies
rather than serve or worship any god
except their own God.”
Ah, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The familiar Bible story about the “three guys with weird names” that was a staple in any elementary Sunday school curriculum.
It’s always an exercise of introspection, rereading this story as an adult, as my childhood preoccupation with the obscurity of their names, has now shifted to the actual content of what these three brave men were actually enduring, and the implications thereof.
The fiery furnace that “Shad, Meesh and Benny” as we shall henceforth refer to these men, were thrown into, gives us not only an inspiring story of courage and fortitude and commitment to faith, but it also calls to mind the powerful imagery of the refining fire.
Having survived a serve case of anorexia in my teens, I actually spent many hours researching the process of refining gold by fire.
After returning from a three month stay at an inpatient hospital, where I entered at 78 pounds – flirting with death, and having pushed away God, my family and friends; I left having completely committed my life to Christ, embraced recovery, and with a zeal in my heart to discover God’s plan for my life.
And part of that discovery process, included recognizing the shaping role that season of darkness had played in God’s formation of my faith, my heart and my soul.
And I stumbled upon the refining process for gold.
In ancient times, the goldsmith would put the gold ore into a crucible, and then subject it to intense heat, liquifying the metal. Its impurities would then rise to the surface, which would be skimmed off. This process would be repeated and repeated until the goldsmith could see his reflection in the surface of the liquid. It is then that he would know it is pure gold.
What a powerful metaphor to Christian life, isn’t it?
And such a comforting truth to little 18 year old-me, after just enduring an intense period of suffering. I knew that God was using it to refine me: to break me of the sin and impurities in my life, namely the pride that had such a death grip on my life that it led me to destructive behaviors that nearly cost me everything.
There is a true dependence on God that can only come about through suffering. There is a moment-to-moment need for God that develops when God is all you have left.
And that complete reliance on the Father is a life altering, perspective-shifting foundation that becomes the cornerstone upon which the rest of your life is built. It was for me.
I knew that without God, I would be nothing. I would have nothing. The 14 years I’ve been in recovery are only possible because of Him. I would have no recovery without Him.
Shad, Meesh and Benny — they knew that too.
And through their story of bravery and courage, we’re reminded of one final thing.
We are not alone in our suffering.
Though we may feel, during that season of trial, season of loss, season of despair, anger, isolation, what-have-you — though we may feel abandoned by God: We can’t see Him, feel Him. He’s forgotten me, He doesn’t care, He isn’t there when I need Him most.
This story reminds us that, in fact, He is in the furnace with us.
At the end of the story, King Nebuchadnezzar says, “I see four men unfettered and unhurt, walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God.”
He is with us in our suffering. Supporting us, carrying us every step of the way.
That is the beautiful perspective of dependance that we gain in the fire. That knowledge of God’s faithfulness. His steadfastness. His deliverance through the fire.
And anytime we need a reminder of that fact, we can just look at the Cross.
Lent is rapidly coming to a close. Let’s finish strong, knowing that, as Jesus is always with us in our suffering, we can unite ours to His, in this week leading up to His Passion.
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