But If Not. Not, What If
This is not the blog post had I had planed for March. This isn't what I wanted to share or write about. Spending the beginning of Spring inside watching the flowers bloom and the trees grow green from my bedroom window is not what I had in mind either. But here we are. The world seemingly turned upside down in a matter of weeks, and all the things we thought would be are not.
If you are a worrier like me, or a person who struggles with fear... this is has been hard. It's a constant battle in my mind. I am afraid of what might happen to my family and friends and even to myself. I am worried about my students who I can't see or work with face to face until who knows when. I am frustrated by the people who refused to follow instructions given by healthcare professionals and continue to be caviler with their lives and with others. I am saddened by the despair of people all over the world who are separated from or have lost loved ones from this virus.
Not to be cynical, but I am afraid, and worried, and frustrated, and saddened by things in this world every day. If I allow my mind to go there, I could find things to fear and be upset about even on the best days. But that's not healthy. And not what God calls me to do. As a follower of Christ, one who puts my hope and trust in him, my fear and my frustration and my worry have to leave as I surrender all of me to Him.
I was reminded the other day of one of my favorite stories in the Bible. One I've probably shared before. It's the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. It's the story of how they said "We will not bow and we will not worship" to the statue of King Nebuchadnezzar. Even before they were told to bow down and worship, the King made it clear that those who did not would receive immediate death in the furnace. Knowing full well the cost could be their lives, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego still refused. The King was angry! He summoned the three men to him, outraged at the fact that they continued to refuse to bow down and worship his statue. To his anger and threats the men replied, "King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3: 16-18 NIV)
Look at the confidence that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had. Confidence because they knew full well who their God was and what He was capable of. Look at the boldness they they displayed in the face of angry king. Boldness because of the greatness of the God who they served. Look at the peace that surpassed understanding in the face of a horrific death. Peace that came from knowing in whom they put their hope and trust. And in the face of an incredibly scary moment...a scary unknown, they were able to say with confidence, boldness, and peace not "Well what if..." but instead "He will. But if not...He is still all who He says is and we believe Him to be".
That's how I want to go into these next weeks and months. That's how I want to face the unknowns that are surrounding us all right now. Like I KNOW my God and I TRUST in Him. With boldness I can say NO MATTER WHAT He is good. With peace I can rest assured that HE IS WITH ME even in the chaos that surrounds me. And forget all those "what ifs" that I have swimming and turning around and around in my head. They will not hold me captive because even if they all came to pass... He is still on the throne. He is still good. He is still love. He still gives grace. He still gives mercy. He still gives peace. He still gives strength. He stills provides for every need. He still heals. He still changes hearts. He still redeems. He is still worthy of all of my worship and my praise.
If you don't know how the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego ends... they did get thrown into the furnace. Daniel 3: 24- 27 says, "Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God,come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them."
Not a burn. Not a singe. Not even the smell of smoke. Fire, which consumes, did not even leave a trace. And God stood there in the fire with them. How can your heart not stir with incredible joy and boldness and confidence when you hear that?!?!
I will walk in that. I will stand firmly and refuse to bow to the fear and worry this world wants me to. I will walk boldly towards the angry King threatening me with death by fire, and say, "The God I serve will deliver me from it". When I think about how all this my end and what the future might hold, I can trust that there will be no hint of the things that tried to hinder me and stop me. However this ends up, whatever might happen in the days and weeks to come, I trust the God who is who He says He is. Who is the same yesterday, today and forever. Who never leaves and never forsakes. Who has the whole topsy-turvy world in the very palm of His hands.
So this is not the blogpost that I wanted to share or planned for March but it's the one I needed to do. It's what God is showing me and what has been on my heart. It's a daily reminder to remember the faithfulness of God in the most chaotic of times. And it's how I am choosing to walk through this uncertain season we all find ourselves in. Confidence. Boldness. And peace.