But If Not.....

"Our God is able to deliver us.....But if not...." Daniel 3:17-18....."And others were tortured." Hebrews 11:35..."If you're facing a furnace, make provision for the 'if not.' If you are not healed, if the dear one is taken, if that friend fails you, be faithful anyway." Vance Havner

There have been a lot of "but if not's" in my journey with Him. So many places where I believed completely that He would come through in the way and time that I desired and envisioned....but He did not. I expect that if you've truly been walking with Him, you've experienced the same. When you have come to the "if not's" in your life, how have you responded? How are you responding right now?

In my early years with Him, in the difficult places, He consistently came through for me in so many wonderful ways. He saw how easily shattered I would be if it were otherwise, but as I grew in Him, the testings and challenges of life became harder, more frightening. I had walked through some fires, I had never entered the furnace. When I did, I was faced with the same choice that the three young Hebrews were. Would they, in the face of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, bow down and worship him, or stay true to their God, and worship Him alone? For them, the choice was made before the furnace. For me, I had to do so in it. Maybe it's been the same for you. When the scorching flames of affliction, pain, and suffering hit the child of God, that's when we may be faced with the awful reality of the "but if not's." We have believed fully for His deliverance, but here we are in the furnace. Will we remain true and steadfast to Him, or will we bow down to all the circumstances and threats that come against us, and our trust in Him?

In Hebrews 11 there is a great listing of many of the Bible's heroes of the faith. The wondrous things God did on their behalf are listed. It's a magnificent victory parade, and those in it are named. Yet in that same chapter, there is a second "list." These are the ones who suffered torture, imprisonment, and death. No names are given, yet they, just as the ones who were recognized as faith heroes, were heroes as well. They too walked in that parade. They walked through the "but if not's." The furnace could not destroy their trust in Him. We don't know their names, but He does. No one may know ours in the midst of our own furnace, but He does, and I believe that to Him, the faith of such ones must be the most precious of all.

If you are truly a child of the King, given completely to Him, you will come to your own furnace of affliction. Will you trust Him whether He brings you out of it or not? If everything you have believed about Him seems to be a lie, will you still believe that He is true? Will you refuse to bow down to all that is against you, and dare to trust the One who is for you....even when He seems to have failed you? The furnace may seem to be the end, it is not.

I leave you with this truth that I've learned in the furnace, in the place of the "but if not." I learned to see not what He didn't do, but that which He did. In the end, and into eternity, what will matter most are not the works that He didn't do, but the greater ones that He did....and we'll likely not see their extent until we are fully living in eternity. Until then, while living in the "but if not," keep the eyes of your heart focused on the One who is the I Am.

Blessings,
Pastor O

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