Yesterday, I visited the church I grew up in. It was refreshing to go back home and hear a fresh word from an ancient passage. The pastor was gone on vacation with his wife this week, so an old friend of mine was filling in. He was nervous! He had a word, was confident that he had heard, but he was intimidated by us.........His friends and family, to deliver it.
He began with a nervous intro, making us laugh, while trying to settle his own state of being. He promised that he would get to the end of the message, eventually. "It might take fifteen minutes, and it might take five days!" he said, "I have seventeen pages! We will see what happens!"
Then he began to share his heart. A sweet anointing fell in the house of the Lord, and my friend Steve began to testify. We turned to Daniel, chapter 3, where we found Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the three Hebrew children who refused to bow in the earthly king's presence. Steve introduced them as if we had never heard of them before and he compared their desperate situation to any of us who might be in a season of struggling today.
Trust was main point. Who do we trust? The three Hebrew children knew that they could trust the Lord in life and in death. The Lord is trustworthy.
I love this story.
It stirs my faith!
It is a picture of a test.
A test that was passed and blessed while producing for them a testimony.
Awhile back I was spending some time in the book of Daniel, petitioning the Lord to show me something that was hiding behind fog to my spiritual eyes. He revealed a powerful thought to me.
King Nebuchadnezzer could see the fourth man in the fire!
It is recorded because the king saw the fourth man!
But it does not record that the Hebrew children could actually see the fourth man in the fire.
They knew He was with them..........they were not being consumed though they were baptized in fire.
He loosed them from the king's bindings.
It was obvious that He must be with them.
But there is no guarantee that they could actually SEE HIM!
In seasons of suffering, I have found it difficult to spot the fourth man in the furnace with me.
Others have commented that they can see Him.
They marvel at my strength.
I don't sense strength.
My weakness is acutely obvious to me.
But the world can see?
That is grace.
His presence is always with us........as He walks through our tests and trials with us bringing glory to His name.
Whether we see Him or not.
Whether we feel Him or not.
It often brings the world to it's knees, this kind of testimony.
The bow is often redirected from worldly idols to the true and living God.
An awe settles.
A testimony is born in seasons of fog or furnace producing for us a weight of glory.
An eternal weight of glory. (2 Corinthians 4:18-19)
The fourth man in the fire has been in the furnace with us all along.
Just like a foggy day can hide building, trees, and fields, though we know that they exist. The Lord can hide His presence, stretching our faith to reach for what we know to be true.
And He will reward our faith for believing what we cannot see.