Of all the lessons I've learned since the death of my father, some of them are directly related to that situation and have resulted in peace with my circumstances. However, for other lessons, his death was just the catapult that helped prepare my heart to learn lessons that can be applied to any situation in life. This first lesson is one of those.
One year ago, yesterday, we closed on our very first house. For an entire year before that we lived with my parents (6 months) and Chase's parents (6 months). Though they were very kind, and we appreciated the roof over our heads, it was the roughest year of our marriage. We were pulled at from all sides.
During that time, I came across a book called Hope Unfolding by Becky Thompson, author of the blog Scissortail Silk. Everyone who knows me well at all knows that I can read an entire book in one day. I'll be honest though. I still haven't finished this particular book. Not because it was bad, but because it was that good. And I felt like I learned what God was trying to use this book to teach me. For now. :-)
In one particular chapter of the book she is talking about Shardrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace (see Daniel 3 for full story). In the paragraph that changed my life, she had this to say:
"But when everyone looked inside, they didn't see ashes or smoke. Scripture says that when those on the outside looked into the flames, they saw a fourth man in the fire, and none of them were being burned. Friends, God doesn't promise that we won't walk through fire. But He absolutely promises that when we do, He will be with us."
Y'all. I've always known this. I was raised in a family that some years money for Christmas presents showed up on Christmas Eve. Where a turkey . . . or 3 . . . showed up on Thanksgiving Day when we didn't know where our next meal would come from. Where our car would break down and someone would call - without possibly being able to know our situation - and tell us they'd just bought a car and wanted to just give us their old car. Where my father took his own life and we made it through. God walked with us through every fire we faced. I already knew all of that when I read this particular paragraph in this specific book. That is a good lesson, but I already knew it.
What did I learn?
". . . when those on the outside looked into the flames, they saw a fourth man in the fire . . ."
Everyone around saw the fire these guys were walking through. Everyone around knew what these men were facing. And everyone around saw God in the midst of their literal fire. When I walk through a figurative fire, what do those around me see? Do they see me grieving over my circumstances like the lost (1 Thessalonians 4:13), or do they see a life filled with hope and peace and joy and grace and thankfulness. The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that we are to give thanks in ALL things. Is that was people see when they look into my fire, WHATEVER it may be?
When those on the outside look into my flames, do they see a fourth man in the fire? He's there. Do they see Him?