For the past few months, I've been stuck on the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I'm sure you've heard it. They were thrown into a fiery furnace because they refused to bow before the king's idol. And they lived to tell about it. My favorite part of the story has always been their pre-furnace faith. When told about their punishment, their response was, "The God we serve is able to save us from it... but even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." I've always wanted my life to be marked with such deep conviction, with such resolute faith.
In many ways, I've been in my own personal fiery furnace for the past year. So lately, as I've camped out in this story, I've paid more attention than usual to what happened after they made their bold confession of faith.
The Bible tells us that the three Jewish boys were tossed into the furnace firmly tied. But the king saw them walking around the fire unbound and unharmed. I smile every time I see that phrase. Because it seems to me it's just another way of saying "nothing missing, nothing broken"---God's promise of wholeness and completion. My heart's prayer is that I would be seen walking through my personal fire unbound and unharmed.
Even better than them being protected from the flames, is the fact that they weren't alone. A fourth man was seen walking with them in the midst of the fire. I so want Jesus to be visible in this with me. I don't want to do it in my own strength. I can't do it in my own strength. I need Him, and I want it to be so clear, even to others, that He is right here with me. I think the evidence that He is walking me through this, will need to be in my words, actions, and character.
When the Hebrew boys were brought out of the fire, not a hair on their heads was singed. Their clothes weren't burned. They didn't even smell like smoke. That gives me chills. And it gives me hope. I'm praying that my heart won't be blackened by the soot of bitterness, that my soul won't be darkened by the ash of unforgiveness. I want to come out the other side of this without even the smell of smoke on me.