Furious, King Nebuchadnezzar ordered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be brought in. When the men were brought in, Nebuchadnezzar asked, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you don’t respect my gods and refuse to worship the gold statue that I have set up? I’m giving you a second chance—but from now on, when the big band strikes up you must go to your knees and worship the statue I have made. If you don’t worship it, you will be pitched into a roaring furnace, no questions asked. Who is the god who can rescue you from my power?”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” (Daniel 3:13-18 MSG)
All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Anything that takes the place of my focus on God may become an idol in my life, even my desire to return to ministry. I know that some people may not view it this way but for me there can’t be any room for something else to step between me and my worship of God. I have to get my focus on “what is” instead of “what has been”. Or, even "what might be". I have to trust God with what I don't know as much as what I do know. Today was one of those days that had me fighting myself to stay focused on "loving what is".
I most certainly don’t like the furnace that I put myself in for the year of 2014 but if I don’t quit looking at the damage I caused it will become a "god" in my life. It will rule over my going to bed and my waking up. Since I haven’t seen a ninety-foot high statue that I’ve been asked to bow to I have to assume that today I might be tempted to make my own idols and then bow to them. An idol isn't always something that we like; it's often something that simply demands our time and attention.
Our sins, believe it or not, can become an idol in our lives. If I exalt my sin above God, and His power to forgive, my sin can actually become an idol.
What are you thinking about right now? How does that thought make you feel? Hopeless? Confident? And, finally, why does it make you feel that way? I believe that today is the best day of my life. Why? Because I choose to believe it's so. That's what I'm thinking right now. I have a "golden opportunity" today to do as the three Hebrew children did and simply trust God. And, if He can't, or won't, deliver me from my fears and renew my reputation I've lost nothing. I refuse to bow! So, "golden opportunity" to prove God or "golden statue" to renounce God? They chose wisely and so shall I.
Had they set their minds on their opulent lifestyle in the Babylonian kingdom they might have just bowed? Instead they were able to maintain their reverence for the God of "all gold" instead of a "golden god."
The power of choice is the greatest power we possess next the power of God. Never let someone else choose for you, not even a king. If I had done what my parents wanted me to do I would never had earned two college degrees and gone into ministry. They had a "statue of security and normal" erected for me but I didn't want to worship it. They were awesome people but no one but me will stand before God with the choices I have made.
Bowing to a golden statue wouldn't help the boys and they knew it. And, they wanted to prove it to the people. I guess I want to prove to people that a sin of my magnitude doesn't have to cast a statuesque shadow on me for the rest of my life. I won't react, or respond in defiance to protestors of my call rather I will "bow" in obedience to my God and fulfill my destiny. I don't believe that anyone truly means me harm they just don't know what to do with people "in the fire", in their moment of persecution.
There really are no other gods other than the ones that we create. We give meaning to objects, money and stuff, not the other way around. They only bare the value that we place on them. There is nothing wrong with money, stuff, influence, and popularity unless they become the focus of our daily living. Idols are first erected in our hearts and minds before we ever assign value to them. Nebuchadnezzar's heart could have just as easily been turned toward Jehovah and the statue could have been built in honor of Him. He had a "golden opportunity" to glorify God with his construction talent but instead he was seduced by his own success. The golden statue wasn't the problem, what it represented in his heart and mind was the problem.
Idols appear on the horizon of our subconscious in subtle fashion. I'm sure that when the golden statue was being erected the people just thought it was going to be a decorative edifice in their city. Subtle. I think that our gradual successes begin with honest innocence. We don't start out making idols of our work, our money, our marriage or our stuff, they simply become idols gradually because we have focused so long on our human efforts that they become "golden statues" to us.
Nothing becomes an idol overnight.
There are people watching all of us to see how we will respond to our "golden opportunities" to trust God in a world filled with "golden statues." Wouldn’t God forgive them if they had just played along, don’t ruffle the king’s feathers so too speak. I guess that we will never know but we do see later in chapter three that God did deliver them from the furnace they were cast into due to their disobedience to the king. The bible makes it clear that the real King showed up in the fire, their fire. Notice that they didn't trust God to extinguish their furnace, they just trusted Him to be in the furnace with them, and He was. He's called the "fourth man."
"But look!" the kings said, "I see four men, walking around freely in the fire, completely unharmed! And the fourth man looks like a son of the gods!" (Daniel 3:25)
I decided early on in my restoration journey that it was best for me to complete my "burn cycle", like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, than it would be to run away. It's about time for me to resume my craft, which may become the hottest fire yet since I will once again surface in the world of Christian leadership. I will present my life to the court of public opinion. There will surely be talk about what I should be able to do in ministry and what I should not.
Some will think that I should "bow down" to the "god of error" instead of rise up and worship the God of grace.
I will join the ranks of these three "pyro maniacs" and begin looking for the fourth man in my fire, well the second man in my case. I know that my situation is different than the boys, I built my fire, but there is one thing identical, we both must trust God in our fire. It's a "golden opportunity."
There is an old fable that says the gold objected to the heat of the furnace and asked how long it should be expected to endure such heat. The answer was, "As soon as the refiner's purpose is accomplished." "And when will that be?" asked the gold. The answer was, "When the refiner can see his own face in you."
I want God to be able to see His face in me, in my life. I also want others to be able to see God in me, not for my glory but so that others might trust when they go through their fires. Take your time God.