“ If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” – Daniel 3:17-18
A Reflection From My Most Recent IV Conference:
What have you heard from God? How has God transformed you?
“Need to stop being an island swim w/the sharks as a ‘topless dancer’ aka, be bold in where I’m sent and be in prayer for a 1st follower.”
Ok, because I know both my home church pastor and the pastor at the church that I go to on campus, as well as my great aunt reads this, I’m going to say this: NOTICE THE PARENTHESES!!! I don’t actually want to be a topless dancer, as you will see if you keep reading. DON’T TELL MY MOM I WANT TO BE A TOPLESS DANCER!!! #whyIshouldhavedeniedtheirfriendrequest
Sorry, had to clarify from the beginning because apparently my IV staff worker read this and did something similar to this:
(How was I supposed to know that she actually read our reflection sheets? I thought they were just for us to, you know, reflect on the weekend. Sorry Warrior Sheep)
Ok, back on topic: At IVLI, the month long summer conference I went to, one of the speakers talked about the Book of Daniel. Though I remember much of what he said, there was a total disconnect from Daniel and my own life. As always, the realization came in hindsight, but whether late or not, the message from the speaker and that I learned/am still learning is still important.
So here’s the low down of what happens in Daniel 3: There’s a king, King Nebuchadnezzar (but I’ll just call him King Nebby for short), who is kind of really into himself and his gods so much that he makes a golden image and any time anyone hear “the sounds of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music,” everyone is supposed to stop what they’re doing, bow down, and worship this golden image that he made. Well, there’s this guy Daniel (Belteshazzar) and his friends – Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abednego) – who are Jews that work for King Nebby and have so far found favor with the king – decide to not do what is literally the law: bowing down and worshiping this golden image.
Now, I think what’s really important to realize is that what they do and say to the king is not some guys actively trying to stir up trouble. They’re seriously just four friends who were taken from their home when they were young and are trying to get by in this place that they are now forced to call “home” without being killed. Just minding their own business, noses to the grindstone when King Nebby’s music started to play. Despite the amount of sass that I (or anyone for that matter) write them in, they seriously had the crap scared out of them when they were called before King Nebby. I mean, who wouldn’t? So there they are, in front of the King, hands maybe sweating and shaky, being told that if they don’t just hurry up and bow down, they’ll be thrown into a fiery furnace. Their response?
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” – Daniel 3:16-18
Cool? Heck, yeah!
Confident? Um, undoubtedly!
Something that I would say right off the bat? Um…well…
You know, a lot of times, taking the easier way out just seems so…well, in the case of Daniel and his friends, less fiery and painful. I mean, I really feel called towards areas needing reconciliation (Probably why I want to be a child/family counselor). On my campus though, issues of racial reconciliation, especially with recent events, has been the biggest thing on my mind in regards to leading my fellowship. A lot of times though, I feel like I’m the only one who actually cares about these issues, whether that thought process is true or not.
At the conference that I wrote the reflection at the beginning for – you know the “topless dancer” thing – I first started out feeling very separate and isolated from people in my fellowship who were there even though through most, if not all the time, in the track that I was in I was sitting next to people who I would say were/are good friends. However, they all felt called to one area and I felt called to another. They all were talking and coming up with plans for reaching out to one group of people while I wanted to reach to another. It was that weird tear inducing feeling where you feel alone even surrounded by people. It honestly wasn’t until they played the following video that my situation just…clicked:
Get the topless reference now?
What was really cool about what Daniel did wasn’t the fact that after they were thrown into the fire they stepped out, clothes and all, unburnt. What was so cool was that whether or not God saved them from being thrown into the furnace, they were still not going to bow down to anyone but their God. It was that “but if not”. The unpopular choice. The road less traveled. They fully expected a miracle but they would also fully trust and follow God without one because they believed that God knew better than them.
And what happens to them for having this belief even in this situation where it honestly looked like there was no way out?
Let’s remember. God does not save them from being thrown into the furnace. He lets them. And then, He lets them walk out of the furnace because they believed He was faithful. Daniel and his friends didn’t put God in “a box” and therefore they gave Him a lot of room to just be God and do something way cooler than what they probably had in mind. They fully depended on God.
Dependency (n.) – the quality or state of being influenced or determined by or subject to another; reliance; trust
With this whole, lone “topless” dancer thing, yeah, I definitely need to be praying that God will send me people who also feel called to the areas that I feel called to. But if not, I will still trust in God and work in the areas that I’m being called to, even if I am in that area alone and continue to be praying for God to just continue to do His thing, whatever that is. In general, I really need to get into the habit, especially as a leader of my fellowship, of doing the right thing even when I know I’ll get little in return. The lone dancer isn’t remembered for the crowd that comes, it takes time and doing things that may not be popular or easy, and inviting others while have a dependence on God that is remembered. Daniel and his friends are cool but without their dependence on God I doubt anyone would have remembered them if they had been burnt to a crisp.
So what are some practical steps I can take?
- Prayer. Lots and lots of prayer. (Essentially more prayer than I’ve been doing.)
- Invite others to join me. Be that lone “topless” crazy nut dancer. (And not just through social media but actually in person.)
- Even if others don’t join me, trust in and depend on God and his faithfulness, like Daniel did.
- Rinse, wash, repeat…
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore. Amen.
– Psalm 121