January 15, 2007

But if not . . .

The sermon in church yesterday is still on my mind. At risk of making an excellent sermon much shorter and more mediocre, here was the message in a nutshell: Pastor Mark was preaching about the three Hebrew men thrown into the blazing inferno at the hand of Nebuchadnezzar because they wouldn't bow down to his gods. There names were Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah before there names were changed by Nebuchadnezzar to the more recognized names of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.

The whole sermon hinged on Daniel 3:16 - 18:
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O 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 save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. BUT IF 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."

S, M & A all recognized that God was powerful enough to save them from the furnace. The phrase "but if not" showed their willingness to surrender to what God had planned, whether he saved them or not. We've all been in situations in which we're thrown in the proverbial furnace . . . and the challenge to trust God whether he saves us from it or not was a huge one. I really haven't done this sermon justice, but stick with me.

After church, and after a discussion in small group, I feel disheveled. Am I ok praying for God to have his way in any situation, even when times are good? I think it's easier to pray for that when times are bad and can only get better. But can I honestly surrender to his will, when that might mean going down a harder road than I'm on right now? I guess if I'm honest with myself, I ask for God's will in my life all the time when I pray. But do I mean it? What if total surrender means that I lose my home? Or my job? Or my family? Or my baby? Or my husband? When faced with a furnace, can I say "but if not . . . "? The story of Abraham's obedience in taking Isaac as a sacrifice suddenly becomes newer and more painful.

Are there things that I would be completely unwilling to part with as part of my surrender to God? Can these good things be the idols that I worship?

At the end of the sermon, right before we started singing, the baby started throwing a little party in my belly. He was kicking and moving and flailing like I've never felt before. It was kind of like he was worshiping right along with us!

We had a pretty big ice storm last night. I'm actually surprised that we didn't lose power. Neither Kyle or I could sleep, so every hour or so, we'd get up and look at what was going on outside. It was a very peaceful rain . . . not much wind or blowing. The rain just fell and iced over everything that was exposed.

Kyle and I drove to camp this morning (before we realized camp didn't have power) and there are a lot of trees and tree branches down this morning. The branches that aren't down, are bent so far that they're close to the ground. It really is an image of all creation bowing down before the Creator.

We had an ice storm like this about 5 years ago when I first started at camp and I hiked around the lake and took some beautiful pictures of trees with ice on them. In retrospect, I realize that was kind of dangerous . . . hiking through the woods full of ready-to-snap branches. Maybe I need to go out and get some pictures of this ice storm too . . . when it's safe, that is.

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