Freedom in the Fire – The Crosswalk Devotional

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Freedom in the Fire
By Annie Yorty

“Then Nebuchadnezzar came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire. Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke!” – Daniel 3:26-27 NLT

I became a camper after I married. My husband and I and our kids have spent many nights sleeping on the ground, securely zipped inside our tent—away from any bugs, mind you. It’s funny how much I like the outdoors, though I scream and dance at seeing anything with more than four legs. I think it’s the allure of the campfire that keeps me going back to the tent life. These days, I must admit my bones prefer to sleep on my comfy air mattress cot.

We often took my mom along, who was not a camper for most of her life. We’d lounge around the crackling flames every evening after our day’s excursions, sharing stories, songs, and laughter. One evening, long after the light had fled, we sat staring into the glowing blue-orange embers. I sniffed the air, detecting a strange smell. Smoke followed. Then a screech. Mom dropped her feet from the metal fire ring, leaped out of her chair, and jumped like a possessed ape in the dark. The dirt flew as she stomped her smoking sneakers into the ground to put out the fire. I still laugh at the memory of Mom when I smell burning rubber.

During the time of King Nebuchadnezzar of ancient Babylon, three men found themselves in another hot situation. The king created a ninety-foot statue, possibly in his own likeness, and commanded everyone to worship it. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, devout followers of God Almighty, refused to bow to the idol. Furious, Nebuchadnezzar stoked a fiery furnace and threatened to burn them alive if they would not comply.

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.’” (Daniel 3:16-18 NLT)

At the mention of God, things got seven times hotter for the God-fearing trio. The king, incensed by the challenge to his authority, fueled the fire to a temperature so hot the soldiers near the entrance instantly died. He ordered his servants to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then he watched with satisfaction as they were thrown, fully dressed, into the furnace. I’ve been in some fiery furnaces in my life. Though nothing as intense as the three men whose story is told in the book of Daniel, I have faced opposition to doing the right thing. If you’re following God’s ways, you probably have too. Resisting pressure to cut corners at work may result in the loss of a job promotion. Telling a friend a hard truth in love may bring on a spate of gossip about you. Sacrificially giving to God may squeeze your finances.

In some countries, trusting God might cost your freedom or even your life. Sometimes fire is simply a normal part of life. A job loss. Divorce. A prodigal child. Cancer. Death. Sometimes we wonder if we will survive. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego displayed confidence in God we should learn to emulate. They respected and trusted God more than they feared the fire. They lived out what the author of Hebrews taught.

“So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:6 NLT)

You may already know how the story ended for our three God-fearing heroes. From a safe distance, the king peered into the furnace, no doubt eager to see them consumed. Much to his astonishment, he saw four men walking freely in the flames, apparently untouched. He recognized one of them as God. He immediately called Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego out of the furnace. They strolled through the doorway and stood before him. I imagine him touching their intact clothes, which were not singed by the fire. I wonder if he sniffed the air, unable to detect even a whiff of smoke. 

Did you notice the three men found freedom in the fire? In the presence of God, their bonds fell away. They knew no fear. They grew even more confident of God in the flames than when they decided not to bow in fear to Nebuchadnezzar. God uses the fires in our own lives to teach us to trust Him. Just as the heat burned away the ropes that bound Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, God uses our trials to free us from the fear of anything other than Him.

Intersecting Faith and Life:
What pressure do you face to compromise on wholeheartedly following God? How have you experienced God’s freedom in the fires of your life?

Further Reading:
Daniel 3:1-30, Hebrews 13:1-8

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Joshua Newton

Writer Annie YortyAnnie Yorty writes and speaks to encourage others to perceive God’s person, presence, provision, and purpose in the unexpected twists and turns of life. Married to her high school sweetheart and living in Pennsylvania, she mothers a teen, two adult children (one with intellectual disabilities), and a furry beast labradoodle. She has written From Ignorance to Bliss: God’s Heart Revealed through Down SyndromePlease connect with her at http://annieyorty.com/, Facebook, and Instagram.

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