Never hold back – Daniel – “Even if…”

When is faith in action ever easy?  But the Bible has some incredible stories about faith in action being rewarded by God!

In Daniel 3:16 – 18, Daniel’s mates (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, aka Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah) are about to get thrown in the fire, and they give one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard:

“The three of them replied to the king, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you about this anymore.  If we get chucked into the blazing furnace that you’ve made, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it.  He will save us from Your Majesty’s power.   But we want you to know this: Even if we knew that our God wouldn’t save us, we still wouldn’t serve your gods and worship them instead.

Woah!

Even if God won’t save me, I’ll still call him my number one God?  I’ll still trust and worship him?

It’s crazy stuff.

It’s awesome stuff.

And God did save them – even more awesome! He provided an angel who stood with them in the fire so that they wouldn’t be burned up. By contrast, the soldiers who had to throw them into the furnace were all burned up immediately by the incredible heat.

Four in the fire from Keith Nicolas WordPress blog

Four in the fire from Keith Nicolas WordPress blog

There have been several moments in my life where God has said, “Even if *this bad thing happens* or *this good thing never happens*, will you still follow me?  Will you still worship me?” and I’ve said yes!  And I’ve known some great friends who’ve had the absolute worst happen and still love and trust God with everything they have.

But today isn’t about me or them or the past – although we’d happily give you details of what God’s done in our lives any time.  It’s about right now, your present situation.

Where is God asking you to let go of control of your life?

Where can you see God asking, “Even if the worst should happen, will you still trust me?”

 

This post was written by TJ Withers-Ryan © 2013. Reblogging is highly encouraged as long as you credit me as the author.

The last leg of the race

The victorious woman crosses the finish line - Eshet Chayil!

The victorious woman crosses the finish line – Eshet Chayil!

Ever struggled to finish a project?  Yeah, me neither…

I’ve been thinking lately about how crazy busy this year has been, and how I haven’t finished the novel I was working on, although the beginning and the middle are definitely somewhat there…

The point of my post today is that often the hardest part of trying to get somewhere / waiting to achieve something is that last leg of the race.  The week before your loved ones return home.  The last year of uni.  The last month of work before you resign from your old job and start your new one.

Our writing projects often get abandoned right at the end.  I’ve written 42 / 50 chapters for a book that I told everyone I was going to finish in 2011 – now that’s awkward!  And the reason why is that I know how to start with a bang, and the middle is the crux of the story, so that’s pretty set in my mind, but wrapping it all up just looks too big.  I don’t know how to reach those last things that are needed for each of my characters to say, “My part in this story is done, and I’m happy with where I’ve ended up.”  For some characters, I don’t even know what is needed to finish their part.

Jeff Manion spoke at the 2010 Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit about his book, ‘The Land Between: Finding God in difficult transitions’.  He said that the point at which leaders’ plans fail, and people stop volunteering to help, and churches dissolve, is not when you expect.

It’s not at the beginning, because even though looking at a blank slate is scary, most people will be able to imagine the vision that you are setting forth as leader, and it’s exciting to look forward to a future full of hope and promises.  People are happy to give time and money and effort to help a new project get off the ground.  And even in the middle, it’s easy to stay committed, because you can see progress in the steps along the way.

But in that last leg, it’s often hard to see whether or not it is the last leg.  If it looks just like the middle is continuing on forever, then it’s easy to get discouraged.  The last few steps just look too big, and getting through the middle may have drained your resources and energy and passion for the project.

We can fall with the finish line in sight, when we do it in our own strength.

I drove a friend home from a meeting recently and he was reminding me of others who have fallen near the end of their personal race.  He spoke of the Israelites wandering through the wilderness of the Sinai Desert, and how when God first promised to give the promised land to this slave people, they said, “No way, we can’t do that.”  And when they were nearly there, they blew it many times by rebelling against God, even though the end was in sight.  Moses was literally up the mountain fine-tuning the Ten Commandments when the people decided it was never going to happen and made themselves a golden calf idol to worship instead.

I want to keep running with perseverance the race that God has set before me (Hebrews 12).  In the writing context, this means that I want to finish the projects that I start.

1 Corinthians 9:24-25:  “24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

 

This post was written by TJ Withers-Ryan © 2012. Reblogging is highly encouraged as long as you credit me as the author.