Saturday, September 21, 2013

It is Important

We started attending homeschool co-op 2 weeks ago and so far we are really loving it.  Ethan is taking 3 classes and one of them is an Art through Literature class. His first week they were given a worksheet to fill out about what is important to them.  Ethan isn't really confident in his spelling abilities, so he asked if he could draw a picture if he couldn't spell what he wanted.  The box says, "What is important about me is I'm..." and he drew a picture.  At first I didn't notice what it was but at second glance I knew.  It is Shyla and Jakin's headstones with their butterflies beside the rocks.  He said what was important about him was that he is a big brother...amazing to me that his grief comes out like this sometimes.  It is important to him that others know he is a big brother to two other siblings.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Not Even a Smell of Smoke

In my reading this morning, I read about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  Allow me to summarize...

They refused to worship a King higher than God and were sentenced to death by fire.  The king even made the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual.

Now, if I were one of these three men, I would be sweating pretty bad at this point, I imagine.  Threat of death by being thrown into this furnace sounds like a pretty scary thing.  And they have already admitted to the king that their God COULD save them, but IF NOT, he was still the one true God worthy of praise (Daniel 3:18).

So anyway, these three guys are facing this pretty scary trial.  They are tied up and the king gets some really strong soldiers to throw them in this inferno. The soldiers who just get close to the furnace fall dead from the heat.  Good ol' Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego go in, but as the king is watching, he sees four men, not three.  The trio is called out of the furnace and everyone is amazed that the fire had not burned them or even singed their hair...there was not even a SMELL of smoke on them.  I don't know if I could go into a road-side convenient store and not come out smelling like smoke.

So, God had, literally, walked them through this fire, they came out unharmed and the king ordered everyone to worship the one, true, God.  And I know that even though they came out of that fire unharmed, I know in my heart they did not come out UNCHANGED.

I used to love this story as a kid.  I have heard it a thousand times.  But, today I heard it in a new way.  We all face trials and fires of some kind.  Some are hot. Some are hot times 7.  I want to have this kind of example to my faith.  One of my largest trials, for example, has been keeping my faith strong after the loss of my children.  I know that a loss like that can shake a person to the core and rattle their faith.  I don't want to be like the strong soldiers who fell flat to their deaths just by merely getting close to the flames.  Although I know it can be easy to lose all faith when the threat of a trial looms.  No, I want to be like the three faith-filled men who were prepared to honor God to their deaths, but instead got to see Him face-to-face in the thing that was supposed go kill them-kill their faith.  I want to be like that.  In my trials, in my hardest times, I want others to be able to look at me and not only see me, but see that God himself is standing right beside me in the middle of what could have been a death sentence for my faith. 

And when I eventually am called out of the hottest part of the fire, I want my faith to come out without even the smell of smoke.  But, I want to come out with...and I feel like it did...a major change and strength that can only come after you have walked through a fire eye-to-eye with the creator of the Universe.  How can you not be changed? 

So your furnace may not actually be a burning fire, but it's something.  Mine were in a sterile OR as my baby girl was quietly born, in the L&D room down the hall 14 months later when my son was delivered too little and too soon, and in a gas station parking lot when I handed a sweet seven day old boy I had mothered since birth, back to the one who carried him to be her son.

It is my prayer that others that saw me in these fires, saw not only me, but God standing with me (and my family) and as we walked out of the hottest part of the fire (the immediate, intense grief) that others could see God had not only protected our faith, but instead, we came out CHANGED.  We had a new perspective on fire and trials.

That is my prayer for my children as well.  Of course, I would love to think they would never face hardships, but, that is unrealistic and we know that trials build up character.  My prayer is whatever trial they face in life that they face it side-by-side with the one who made them and come out unsigned, but not unchanged.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Interceding for Us

I have recently began a new online devotion called "She Reads Truth".  I've linked it up with my YouVersion account and so far I am loving it.  Right now we are studying Daniel, but the verse that has hit me the hardest is from Romans 8:31-39.  Here is the section I am talking about:

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The part that really got me was in verse 34.  "...Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us."  What an amazing thought!  Jesus Christ-who was raised from the dead is at the right hand of the Father interceding, praying, FOR YOU AND I!!!  Amazing!!  It gave me chills and still does today.  
Intercede has two definitions:
to act or interpose in behalf of someone in difficulty or trouble, as by pleading or petition: to intercede with the governor for a condemned man.
to attempt to reconcile differences between two people or groups; mediate.
Jesus is also mediating for us, reconciling the differences between us and God (which there are a lot).   When I get into God's word and find a verse like this, it drives my desire to know him better and to read more.  How about you, what have you been reading in God's word lately?