The other day my wonderful Leading & Loving It sisters wrote a blog comparing our lives in ministry to the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. You know, the guys who refused to bow down to the statue of the Babylonian king even though they knew they would get in trouble. The Bible talks about them taking a stand for what was right regardless of the punishment threatened. Because they refused to bow to the idol, they were thrown into a furnace of fire to be burned. The fire was so hot that it even killed the soldiers who threw them in! But when the king looked into the furnace he was astonished. He saw not three but four men walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth one looked like the Son of God! He called Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego out of the furnace and immediately began praising the One True God because he saw that the fire had not harmed them: their hair was not singed, their clothes were not scorched and they didn’t even smell like smoke! (Daniel 3)
Have you ever been through the fire in ministry? You take a stand for something you know is right, but people turn against you and treat you badly for it. Maybe your stand for good caused you to be gossiped about, criticized, unfriended, or even…dare I say it? Ok… I’ve got to say it…maybe your stand got you FIRED! (sorry…my inner dork could not resist the pun!) 😉 Isn’t it good to know, though, that even when we go through the fire that Christ is there with us- right in the midst of it?! We don’t have to walk through the flames alone! His presence gives us the peace and strength we need to stand upright and not fly into a panic even when it looks like all is lost. And not only that, but He also makes it possible for us to come through the flames with our clothes unscorched, our hair unsinged, and not even smelling like smoke! What a miracle! I was so encouraged by this thought when I read it the other day!
But can I be honest just a minute here? I kinda want to smell like smoke sometimes. Otherwise, how will people know I’ve been through the fire? I sorta relish telling people the sordid details of my “through the fire” experience. I mean, I fully intend to give God all the glory for bringing me through it, but in reality what I enjoy is the sympathy and righteous indignation people display on my behalf. “Those mean-ol’-church people did WHAT?! That’s outrageous! I can’t believe you had to go through such a horrible ordeal! You poor thing!” Yeah… it feels pretty good when people say things like that. But it’s not good for me…and it’s not what God intended when He brought me through the difficult circumstance. He brought me through the fire, not so I could walk around pouting about the past, but so I could come out tested and found pure as gold! It’s important to learn from our past, to rejoice in God’s provision, to even celebrate the trials that have made us stronger, but we cannot let the fire make us stink. I can no longer walk around with my smokey smell and blame it on all the bad things that have happened.
Another Leading & Loving It lady spoke into my heart about this subject. During the recent Just One conference PW Tara Jenkins challenged us to choose freedom in the midst of opposition.
I will not focus on what has been done to me. I will not walk weary, and I will not walk wounded. Instead I will walk WORTHY of the calling He has placed on my life!
Wow! Love that! That’s a whole different way to look at the trials of my past…the various fire-storms I’ve walked through in ministry. It is possible to allow the wounds to heal and the smoke to dissipate. It is possible to rejoice in our afflictions rather than wallow in them. I choose now to rejoice in how God brought me through the fire and the testimony of victory & healing He has given. I choose now not to allow myself to smell like smoke any longer…except maybe when I’m cooking dinner…but that just can’t be helped sometimes. That’s the reason I don’t write a food blog. 🙂