Last night at church, I saw the sweetest sight.
I watched as a toddler, curls bright, was testing her independence by walking ahead of her mother during worship. She marched up the center aisle, too short to be noticed by the people who were standing and dancing. She was all confidence as she moved toward the music and the light, heedless of anything or anyone around her.
She just had to get closer to the glory.
With one more step, she found herself close enough to begin to ascend the stairs of the stage, her glowing face raised in delight.
Her faithful companion, her mother, who was with her the entire time at a distance, gently scooped her up and held her to bring her back to where the rest of her family was worshipping.
No fuss was made as she knew she was in the arms of the one who loves her.
All I could think of was her boldness. She was not going to allow any obstacle to prevent her from getting closer to the glory that attracted her so.
When do we forget to do this?
We can make all sorts of excuses and rationalizations why we don’t move forward to get closer to the glory that the Lord offers in such plentiful supply but somehow, we just don’t seem to get there.
It may be because we will only take those steps if they come on our own terms.
A long time ago, in one of the longest valleys I have walked through, I prayed continually for deliverance. Or more accurately, for what I believed was an obstacle to be removed from my sight.
The removal of that obstacle would not have changed the situation, it would have only appeased my wounded ego, changing nothing of my circumstances.
Thankfully, there was someone in my circle who had quite enough of my self-serving prayer and at long last, they finally spoke. Loudly.
My self-proclaimed righteousness was not ready for the very pointed and very sage advice to bloody well stop praying for the thing I thought I wanted and to stop wasting my time before the throne and allow Jesus to teach me how to deal with it.
In other words, grow the heck up.
Silently, I raged. I knew they were right but I had convinced myself that I could learn all that the Lord had for me as long as the learning came on my own terms. My own soft, fluffy, and selfish terms.
Last week, Robby Dawkins said this:
“Don’t rebuke the flames; look for Jesus in the midst of the flames.”
I get to pray and counsel people often and one of the prefaces to prayer requests I hear often is: “If only [some obstacle] would be removed, I could…”
In our world, we are alternately attracted and repelled by the light and the heat that comes from it.
As a Christian, we hear all sorts of analogies about fire and flames, and what they can do for us.
Heat burns the dross off our souls. The Lord speaks through the flames. We are strengthened in the forge and the fire.
All of that sounds scary and painful.
Who would want that?
If I am going to get strong, I would rather find some sort of candy coated way to do it.
But that’s not the best way. Or the most effective.
Robby asked us to consider what would have happened if Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had not entered the flames. What would have happened if Nebuchadnezzar had not seen their faith and what came of it?
In kingdom living, it’s not about us. It’s about all of us; the family of God.
And since it is about all of us, the Lord will use our lives, the defeats and the triumphs, to minister and instruct and guide and heal people who have been damaged by this world so that they can minister and instruct and guide others, just as we have been.
What will happen if we continually choose what looks like a safe, easy, or convenient path?
What will happen if we reject the violence of the forge?
If nothing changes, nothing changes.
“By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward (Heb. 11:24-26, ESV).”
That’s a man who wanted the glory of God more than his own comfort.
Our growth and wisdom will always be found in the fire, as will the reward.
How glorious it is.