Monday, August 11, 2008

The Fire

One of my absolute favorite accounts from the Bible is the one found in Daniel 3 about the three friends who are facing the fire because of their unwillingness back down from their beliefs. I love the pure, courageous faith that we see from these young men who stand up to the most powerful king reigning on earth, even when they didn't know what the outcome would be. The crowning moment of their faith comes in verses 17 and 18 when they say, "If it be so our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image you have set up." Don't miss the even if He does not part of this story! They didn't know the outcome when they made their stand. They didn't know that not only would they walk around in the fire unharmed, they would see the 4th man - the Son of God!

Yes, this story has a glorious ending, but what makes it all the more spectacular is the fact that they didn't know that ending when they exercised their faith.

I was so grateful for their example when I was pregnant with Poppy, because more than anything else, I wanted their kind of faith. I wanted to trust God completely before I knew the outcome, even when I was close enough to feel the fire hot on my neck. Jesus answered that prayer, and even as they were wheeling me to the delivery room, I knew that I could say in my heart, "God, you can heal her and make her whole, but even if you do not, I will still serve you." In my story God did not choose to answer in the same way that he did with Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, but don't think for one minute that He didn't deliver me, because He did! Let me explain how.

Recently I have been doing Beth Moore's Bible study on Daniel, and I love her insight into this passage in particular. She says that God always delivers His children from the fire, but the ways He chooses to do it are distinctly different. For some, He chooses to deliver them from the fire, for others he delivers them in the fire, and still for others He delivers them through the fire. This perspective helps me step back and take a look at my life and see the ways God has delivered me already through all the fires, small and big, I have encountered in my life so far.

Sometimes - undoubtedly many more times than I realize - God has chosen to deliver me from a fire by allowing me not to have to face it at all. Only He knows the hurts He has saved me from as He has held me in His hand, safe from everything that He doesn't allow. I admit openly that this is the kind of deliverance I pray for! Yet I also realize that this type of deliverance, while much more comfortable, does not result in the same gut-wrenching faith that brings me closer to Jesus. The next two types definitely do.

The second type of deliverance is the kind the men in Daniel 3 experienced. It wasn't until they were right in the middle of the fire that they were saved from the heat. When I think about this in modern terms, I think about those who are healed miraculously from cancer's deadly hold, or the amazing testimonies like those of Corrie Ten Boom who was miraculously delivered from the clutches of a Nazi concentration camp just days before her death was to come. God is still in the business of working miracles, just as he was in the days of ancient Babylon when these three men walked through the fire.

The final category of deliverance is the hardest one to accept at face value, but bit by bit God is giving me new eyes to understand how sometimes instead of saving us from the fire, or in the fire, he saves us through the fire. What that means is that even when the fire seems to consume, what it has really done is taken that person straight to Jesus for the perfect deliverance - the one that makes broken bodies whole and frees them from all traces of this earth. This type of fire usually results in death for the physical body, making it so hard to accept for those of us left behind, but in the light of eternity, I know I will finally be able to see it just as He does. I know this is how He chose to save Poppy. He chose to take her through the fire, allowing her to know Him immediately and leave her broken body behind before she even realized that it was sick.

I believe almost all of us have lost someone who has been delivered through the fire, straight into God's arms. Whether it is through a battle with disease, a sudden tragedy, or infant death, it is always so hard for those of us who are left behind. But just as God is faithful to deliver those through death, He will be faithful to those who are left behind. We are stronger from having walked along the fire's edge with our loved one, and through the heat, we have been refined.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I loved Beth Moore's Daniel Bible study. She has an amazing way of revealing things about our amazing God.

Your post reminded me of a song called "Through The Fire" - I hope have heard it. If not, here are the lyrics:

So many times I've questioned certain circumstances, And things I could not understand.
And many times in trials, weakness blurs my vision; That's when my frustration gets so out of hand.
It's then I am reminded: that I've never been forsaken, and I've never had to stand one test alone. when I look at all the victories, And the spirit rises up in me, And it's through the fire my weakness is made strong!

Chorus:
He never promised that the cross would not get heavy
And the hill would not be hard to climb.
He never offered our victories without fighting, But He said help would always come in time.
So Just remember, when you're standing in the valley of decision And the adversary says "give in", Just hold on, our Lord will show up And He will take you through the fire again!

Emily said...

Angie,
You are so sweet & you have such amazing insight. I am amazed at your attitude. I long to have that attitude in every area of my life. Your posts always touch me & I thank you for your willingness to share!
Emily in Olive Branch

Mary Lou said...

What a beautiful post. What a beautiful illustration. I praise the Lord for what He has worked in your life and how you reflect Him and for how He has refined you through the fires in your life. You are a blessing to the rest of us.

Karen said...

Angie,
This is so important to me today...right now, as my best friend is going in less than two hours to find out the extent of her cancer that was removed when they took both of her breasts last week. I know God uses you to speak to many, not just me, but I want to thank you for choosing to be used; for not choosing to be bitter. I always come away from your posts refreshed and a little more on track.

Laurie said...

Sweet Angie,

I agree with the other commenters and I am always blessed when I read your words and learn from them. I am familiar with various fires through my life, but after reading what you write about them, I come away with more of an appreciation for the way the Lord has brought me through. I am so grateful for your wonderful attitude about our trials. I love you girl and wish you the very best blessings on your precious family.

Love, Laurie in Ca.

Pea Pod Mommy said...

I have been doing that study as well. I find it very powerful! Thank you for your words ~ it had me going back and rethinking a few things!

Stacy said...

Angie-Your words blessed me today. Praising God for His refining work. I just posted on this same topic, as my son Joshua would have turned 6 yesterday. Malachi 3:3 was a big one for me and still is!

Joshua, like Poppy, was delivered through the fire right in Jesus's arms of love.

Thanking God that His arms are wrapped around us each and every day we walk this road of life.

In Christ-Stacy

kc mom said...

Thank you for such amazing words. You have no idea how your blog has helped me and so many others. Seeing what you have been through, how you are dealing with it and how strong you are gives me hope for myself.
Thanks again!!

Becky said...

Hello. I came across your blog by accident through blogs for a cause. I wanted to let you know that I have been deeply touched by your story. Before reading, I watched Poppy's video and as I watched, what stuck out to me the most, were the smiles. All I could see on every face was joy. Joy only possible in such a difficult time through Jesus Christ. As I began to read, I was so encouraged by your faith. Thank you for sharing your story and your life.

Kenzie said...

Angie-

I love this post! Right after we found out about Maddox's diagnosis I was reading through Daniel. I posted something about this and them being delivered through the fire they were faced with... Your words took me back to that place back in October when we had no idea how everything would play out. I know now that God has still delivered us... and He has delivered Poppy and Maddox... just a little bit differently than how I envisioned. God is still so good!

Thank you for the sweet reminder!
Love lots,
Kenzie

Kim (marygracesummons.blogspot.com) said...

Angie,
I have posted on Daniel before too. This has always been my favorite lesson in the bible. When I was younger it was my favorite because the three didn't bow down even in the midst of extreme pressure (peer) and how they Glorified and stood up for God when it wasn't the thing (popular thing) to do, and how God blessed them. I did Beth Moore's Daniel the year it came out (before Mary Grace) and loved it because it was a whole new meaning. I did it again last summer (while learning of Mary Grace) and it was even more to me than before, the "from, in and through" the fire. I could probably take this study 5 more times before grasping it all.
I loved this post. It gets me all "fired" up. Okay corny but true:)
Love you friend,
Kim

BuckeyeNP said...

I did Daniel about a year and a half ago and I still keep the CD's in my car to listen to. That's one of my favorites (I think it's lesson 5 - no smell of fire?).

Such an encouragement, no matter what you're facing. Congrats on Adrienne, she is just beautiful.