Even if.....


     Things were looking bad, very bad for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  Nebuchadnezzar, king of the mightiest nation on earth, Babylon, had commanded that all in his kingdom bow down to a golden idol of himself.  The aforementioned three Jews, refusing to recognize any God but the One true God Jehovah, would not.  Nebuchadnezzar then threatened them with a horrible death by burning in a furnace.  A threat he would make good.  Their reply to him was, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power Your Majesty, but even if He doesn't, Your Majesty can be sure that we will never serve or worship the gold statue you have set up."  
     Scripture tells us that the three were indeed thrown into the furnace, and that the king himself saw them walking about in the fire, joined by a fourth, who he said, "looks like a divine being," for it was.  It was the very Presence of Christ with them.  They emerged unhurt, delivered.  It was a glorious deliverance, and there is so much teaching in this, but it is not their deliverance that I want to dwell upon, but rather, the words of faith and trust they spoke prior to being thrown into the furnace of death.  Telling the king of their complete trust in His ability to save them, but showing an even deeper trust in proclaiming, "but even if He doesn't......"  These are words spoken with the same faith and trust seen in Job as he proclaimed that "though He slay me, yet will I trust Him."  My question for each of us is, what will be our response to Him if, in the midst of our greatest trial or need, He doesn't do that of which we ask?  Can we live, in Him, in the place of "even if?"  There are so many who find themselves living with Him in the place of "if only."  We would give ourselves to Him wholeheartedly "if only" He would do all that we ask, or fill us in on all the details of the journey He calls us to.  If only He would do all that we require, we would gladly give to Him all of our hearts.  If only is an easy place to live, but it is the place of denial.  Denial of Him.  Many can live there, but there are so many less who are able to live in the place of "even if."  We will be His completely, follow Him fully, worship Him only, even if He doesn't seem to meet what we feel our are deepest needs, or bring about the deliverance or healing we cry out for.  Even if this is our reality, we will not turn back from Him.  We will not give ourselves to something else, something that is not Him.  In the "even if," we will worship Him, and Him alone.  Even if He does nothing, He will still have our everything.
     I am so thankful for the many "fiery furnaces" He has delivered me out of.  He gave grace to trust Him there, but He gave, I think, an even greater grace to trust Him in those furnaces that He did allow me to "burn in."  Those places where He did not do those things my heart longed for Him to do.  A grace that enabled me to trust Him, worship Him, even when He didn't save me from the flames.  Flames that I found only served to burn more of the dross from my life.  That may be the greatest gift He gives us when He doesn't give us what we ask for.  A better us, but more, a better, deeper realization of Himself.  We win, are delivered, even when it seems we are not.  Delivered into a deeper place in Him, winning a more abundant life with Him.  Abundant life is ours, even when He doesn't.....So much dross remains, which means more furnaces lie ahead.  By His grace, may we trust Him,
.......even if.

Pastor O
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   May 2019   
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