Sunday, May 2, 2010
Either Way Faith...Really?
"If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up." Daniel 3:17,18
This was Daniel's three friends' reply to Nebuchadnezzar, when he demanded that they bow to his golden image. When these young men refused to bow, the king determined to make good on his threat to throw them into the furnace - the cost of disobedience. But before he punished them, he gave them one more chance. He told them that when they heard the sound of music, to fall on their faces and worship the image he had made, for "what god is there that can deliver you out of my hands?" That's when the men answered the verses above. In essence, they said, "Our God can deliver us if He should so choose. But if He chooses not to, either way, we will not bow to anyone but God."
Either way. God has a choice - to deliver us or to let us perish. Either way, we trust Him alone.
Either way faith.
Do you have "either way" faith?
I think more than not, I have "my way faith." That means that I trust God is going to do what I want, to make things go my way, and that's why I have faith in Him. When I get the answer I prayed for, I say things like, "It was a real test of my faith, but see how good God is!"
Oh, yes! And that's another thing - "God is so good." We say that when things turn out our way, right?
"I was really struggling but God is good and He came through."
"I really needed to sell my house and God is so good, it sold last week!"
"My husband lost his job, but God is so good, he got a new job already!"
But what happens when the house won't sell? Is God not good anymore? Or when there are no jobs? How about then? Or when the test results are bad? Or the fertility doctors are stumped? Or your very best friend turns on you? Is God still good? Do you have faith in Him still or does your faith waiver?
We all know the end of the story. Four men in the furnace rather than three. So for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, their story turned out great. But not all stories end like this. Sometimes God's apparent silence feels like abandonment. What do we do then?
Well, I think it starts with true faith. We've got to get rid of our "my way faith" and replace it with "either way" faith. Those three young men were staring death in the face when they made their declaration of either way faith to Nebuchadnezzar. They said it and they meant it. And when the flames of the furnace lapped at their ankles, it was the moment of truth. Do you think they expected to be saved? I don't think they did. It's not like others had made a stand for God and He had spared them from the furnace, and it was just these three guys' turn. These men were using their last platform as a testimony in the One True God. They knew that whether on earth or in eternity, they were in His hands and His care. So they defied the pagan king and prepared to meet their maker, never dreaming that God would meet them in the furnace for a worship service.
Imagine living life that way. I think we make bold statements in very safe environments. But when our faith is tested because what we are expecting to happen isn't in sight, that's when we have to put our expectations aside and rest in the person and character of God. Yes, God is good ALL THE TIME. Even when He doesn't show up like I want Him to - even when He seems absent. I have to know the character of God and cling to it, trusting His outcome in all circumstances, not just in the times that He answers my way.
Either way faith is a daily call to know the Father, to follow the Father, to trust the Father and to commit all outcomes to the Father. Either way faith knows that His Word is true: there are consequences to sin, persecution is always around the next turn, God tests with trials but never tempts, and the fruit of the Spirit only grows on healthy plants. Either way faith is not just a verbal response, but an emotional, physical and spiritual resolve. Either way faith is prepared to die, prepared to suffer, prepared to stand and prepared to be surprised.
Because either way, God is still God.
The best way to have either way faith is to be in the Word and know God better. The more you know Him, the more you will rest in His loving care and the more you will be able to take your eyes off the here and now and set them on the Eternal One.