The Good Thing about Hard Times

In the midst of all that’s going on in this world, it is easy for you to allow fear to grip your hearts.

Fear of the future, fear of sickness and death, fear of lack of resources, fear of the unknown. I know for my personal life, one fear has attempted to break my peace consistantly and that is the fear of suffering in some way.

Whether it’s suffering in finances, in lacking resources needed for my family, in the economy, whatever it is, there’s this uneasiness about my comfort being attacked in some way. My daily “normal” somehow changing. It can definitely be scary.

Obviously I am not the only one who feels this uneasiness, as toilet paper was the first thing we ran for during the scare. Toilet paper. Think about it. Something that is NOT a necessity being bought over food or water. Because of this one word that has imprisoned us for way too long: comfort.

I was reading in Romans today, seeking peace for my soul during this time and stumbled upon a passage I have read many times. But often His Word jumps out at us when we need it, so I figured I would share.

Romans 5:3-5 – “Moreover (let us also be full of joy now!) Let us exult and triumph in our troubles and sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character (of this sort) produces (the habit of) joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.”

Wow! What peace this can give us if we center our hearts on its promises. All too often as Christian’s these days, we pray for things like character, patience, integrity, more faith, more hope, and yet we never seem to pray for suffering or trials (I know, who would?)

But think about it. This scripture shows you the formula to having joy, peace, faith, and character; trials and sufferings which lead to endurance. All too often we pray for miracles in our lives and yet would pray against situations where God would be able to work miracles.

“Lord, please deliver us from bondage of the Pharoah BUT why have You led us to the Red Sea to be killed?!?” Sound familiar? The Israelites wanted the freedom without discomfort. But without discomfort the miracle of the splitting of the Red Sea would never have been needed. Without sickness, we wouldn’t see His healings. Without struggle, we wouldn’t see His mighty provision. Without discomfort, we cannot grow.

So I take this time in my personal life to do as His Word tells us and exult in trials and sufferings. During this time where comfort and “normal” seem out of reach, this is a time to buckle down and praise the Lord that we are gaining endurance and patience. That we are learning what it means to rely solely on Him and not ourselves, our social lives, or our government. That during this time of stretching we can be thankful and renew our minds to see everything as He does and not what our flesh wants.

Take this time of isolation and really learn to be dependent on God. This is a time where distraction has been wiped out of most of our lives. Distraction and comfort that all too often keep us from our true Love and our families. Stop complaining, worrying, and fearing, and start praising God and thanking Him for your blessings, your life, and the ability to grow in Him.

Hard times are hard but they always restore my faith a little because it always seems that hard times produce such beautiful fruit in humanity. We see communities come together, servants appear in this individualistic selfish world, and neighborly love everywhere we look. Once again the principles of the Word evident all around us.

I wanted to encourage you in this time to look at things in a different way. Stay in your Word, keep your minds renewed, and walk in thanksgiving. Love you all! Happy homemaking!

Clearing the Cobwebs: The Life of a Trail-blazer

You are more Christ-like in the storms, than when the sea is smooth.

Have you ever been hiking before and had the lovely job of being in the front of your group? If you have you understand that often you are the one who gets hit with all of the spiderwebs, branches, and unknowns. I once was the first in line on a trail and felt every single cobweb going across my skin, sticking so fast and hard it was almost impossible to get it off. I quickly learned that lesson and often took the second or third position after that.

It’s quite humorous to watch the first person on a hike because they usually are jumping up and down or swishing their hands in front of their bodies like a ninja attacking an invisible opponent. It’s not as humorous to be the one who is being attacked though.

There was a time in my life I felt like I was getting hit by life’s cobwebs; like I was the person in the front; the trail-blazer. I remember a time when I went from on fire for God to what felt like overnight into a battle with doubt and unbelief. I remember laying on my dorm bed and crying with frustration because I didn’t know why I was battling doubt and how to be rid of it. It was a very difficult spiritual season for me. I remember in the midst of that, I started isolating myself from others (which is a tendency for me in hard times). My best friend made me go out to a movie with her and some of her cousins, so I obliged.

After the movie (which did help distract my mind a little), we ran into an old high school friend in the hallway of the theater. We caught up with him and talked about our lives and what we had been doing for quite some time. I remembered that the last time I had talked with him, he was on fire for God and really passionate about the Lord. But the young man I was speaking to in that movie theater seemed to be a whole different person. He began talking about his struggles with his faith and the doubt that some of his college professors had instilled in his mind. Standing there in that theater the Holy Spirit immediately brought my attention to my struggle with doubt. “This is why,” He said to me.

I was able to empathize with my old friend and in that moment the Lord spoke much wisdom and freedom to him. Things I had been struggling with, the Lord began to preach through me to my friend and I sat back obedient, amazed at His faithfulness. I had bought an apologetics bible to help me with my faith during that struggle, one that helped people defend the Gospel. God told me to give that bible to that young man later that night. When I laid my head down to sleep that night, no doubt or unbelief remained. I was free. It was amazing how quickly it ceased.

I tell this story because that night I realized sometimes we go through struggles in order to help others. Sometimes, quite on purpose, God will let us deal with things in life so that we would be able to serve another in their hard season with empathy and compassion, rather than judgement. I remember that night being amazed at God’s faithfulness to that young man, that He cared so much for Him He would set me up ahead of time to help him.

That is one example of the many times I have gone through things to help someone else. I remember after my miscarriage sitting on the couch with my bestfriend and just talking a lot of my faith struggles out years later. She said something to me, about how I helped ‘pave the way’ for her as she goes through life changes after I have been through them. I remember saying to her in my frustration and flesh, “I’m tired of having to go through every tough battle to help others; I need a break.”

She looked at me and said, “Katie, you’re just clearing the cobwebs for others.” Since then, that saying as changed my outlook completely. When I go through hard times, I think of the “WHO” it may help in the future. When I struggle with something in my mind, my marriage, motherhood, or my walk with God, I don’t see it as an end, but as a beginning of freedom for someone else down the road.

When in a pity party about this trail-blazing anointing, the Holy Spirit spoke so sweetly to my bitter soul as He usually does. “You are more Christ-like in storms than when the seas are smooth.” In that instant I realized that Christ was our trail-blazer. Christ went before us, took our due punishment, and paved the way of salvation so that we could enjoy eternal communion with the Father. He didn’t have to do that, just as we don’t have to let our struggles help others. But He did it because He loved us, and to be like Christ and love others, we also take the struggle for even just one soul.

“For [as a believer] you have been called for this purpose, since Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example so that you may follow in His footsteps. He committed no sin, nor was deceit ever found in His mouth. While being reviled and insulted, He did not revile or insult in return; while suffering, He made no threats [of vengeance], but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges fairly. He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross [willingly offering Himself on it, as on an altar of sacrifice], so that we might die to sin [becoming immune from the penalty and power of sin] and live for righteousness; by His wounds you [who believe] have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:21-24

We also can heal through our woundedness if we allow God to take our struggles, sins, and brokenness and use it for His glory. I believe that God would have sent Jesus for just one person because He sees them as worth it. So even if your struggle helps just one, they are worth it.

So, if you are going through some battles and storms in this life, think of it as just clearing the cobwebs for those behind you. See your overcoming that obstacle as the way in which God can set free someone else. When you see your battle as a tool for the salvation of another’s soul, it makes the fight so much more worth it. So keep your chin up, flail your arms through those cobwebs in praise of Him, and keep blazing that trail.

So that one day you too can say, “I have fought the good and worthy and noble fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith [firmly guarding the gospel against error].” 2 Timothy 4:7.

The Deception of Self Love

Okay, so this is not going to be a popular post. I’m okay with that because I don’t write for popularity but for what God lays on my heart to say to whoever may read it. There is a trend going around that is what I like to call, deliciously deceptive. It’s those topics that come along and are covered in something labeled “good” but are dangerously deceptive underneath. Have you ever heard of the saying, “A wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing?” That’s pretty much the imagery of what I’m talking about.

Now cultural fads come and go. And there’s an easy way to fall into a cultural mindset without weighing whether that mindset lines up with the Word of God. Because it seems good to the eye, then it must be inherently good. One of the things I keep seeing over and over in culture, particularly in women today, is this idea of “self love”. This notion that we as women need to be putting ourselves first, creating a beautiful self image, allowing ourselves to be selfish every now and then because, “Girl, you’re worth it”.

At first you’re like, “That’s right! I should be worrying about myself first.” And you feel really good reading posts that elevate that self esteem and independence and self love. But, if you’re not careful, that’s an easy place to be deceived into becoming self minded or what is really selfish. If I were to say to you, “Girl, you need to do what makes you happy and what makes you feel powerful,” you would probably high five me. But just because something makes you feel good, does not mean it’s biblical or that it should be something we strive for.

Let’s be real with ourselves here for a moment. This world is preaching a lot of messages to us women today, and if we are not careful we can hop on that train into a tunnel of deception. Remember, if you are saved, you are living according to a different culture, the culture of the kingdom of God. Remember, we are not of this world nor are we to think like this world (John 17:16).

“And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].” Romans 12:2 AMP

It’s pretty clear in scripture that we are not to be of the world; that we are not to align ourselves with popular ways of thinking, acting, dressing, that is not in line with the Word of God. So why dear sisters are we women of faith being so deceived into what I like to call the deception of self love?

Scripture is blatantly clear on how we are to view ourselves.

“And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross daily [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]. For whoever wishes to save his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], but whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake, he is the one who will save it [from the consequences of sin and separation from God].” Luke 9:23,24

“He must increase [in prominence], but I must decrease.” John 3:30

“It teaches us to reject ungodliness and worldly (immoral) desires, and to live sensible, upright, and godly lives [with a purpose that reflect spiritual maturity] in this present age” Titus 2:12

“So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not [carefully consider the cost and then for My sake] give up all his own possessions.” Luke 14:33 AMP

“And he who does not take his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me] is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], and whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake will find it [that is, life with Me for all eternity].” Matthew 10:38‭-‬39 AMP

You cannot show me in scripture where my goal in life should be to glory in myself, to put my wants and needs before others, to do what makes me happy, to seek selfish desires. What you do see is scripture telling us over and over is to lay our lives down, to put others first, to serve others, to humble ourselves before God and man, to give God the glory, to seek the will of God and lay our desires down. I am so tired of seeing a generation of women of faith falling into the trap of the self.

Hear me clearly. No, you are not meant to be a doormat. No, you do not have to be abused, used, or treated like garbage. No, God does not want you to view yourself as ugly, fat, or not good enough for love. But its not to make you feel good about yourself in yourself, but to know who you are in Him.

I’ve found that the many times I have let my self be the focus of my every thought, motive, and desire, I am left miserable. Your prayers, thoughts and purposes should not all be about you. Many of us would feel alot better, have more stable mentality, and live in more freedom if we would walk away from the bondage of self and begin to live a life concerned about others.

Get yourself off your mind. Seek God and HIS righteousness. Seek god and HIS purposes for your life. You can do your hair (not bad in itself), fix your makeup just right (I wear makeup too), take that perfect selfie (to show off how strong and happy you are) and still not ever reach happiness. You can have the new clothes, the starbucks coffee, the designer shoes, the promotion at work, the golden globe (you know who you are), and still find absolutely NOTHING at the end of the day. Because sister, joy and peace are not in this world to be found. They are in HIM and Him alone. Stop forfeiting the purposes of God for your own purposes.

When you find yourself in a cycle of self, slap the enemy in the face and serve someone else! Woke up feeling bad about your appearance? Don’t think about YOU all day, instead compliment other women, thank God for your health and being alive, do something good for someone else! Having a bad mental health day? Reach out to someone you know who also struggles and ask them how you can help THEM. You’re not too broken to be used by God to bring light to someone’s life. And you’ll most likely find yourself feeling uplifted and joyful afterwards too.

This culture for too long as promoted self and self interest; independance from others and fulfilling happiness. But if you are a child of God, happiness is not your goal. Hard to hear right? What we think will make us happy, the perfect body, the perfect husband, the perfect children, the perfect house, the perfect job, none of those things will do it in the end. You will get that next thing and feel good for a little bit… and then it doesn’t do the job anymore. You will get the followers and the attention, but find yourself feeling empty.

Because fullness of joy, fulfillment, and peace come only from Him. Because the only path to true self love is the laying down of self in His hands. You want what’s best for you? Try surrendering every dream, desire, life bucket list and relationship to Him and watch Him truly give you the desires of your heart. Trust me, what the enemy doesn’t want you to know is that behind every culutral pep talk and self love blog post is emptiness and a dangerous deception.

It’s not about not taking a night to yourself after a stressful week to unwind and find peace. That’s not what I’m saying. What I am saying is to not get so caught up in this cultural fad that you find that your self is the only thing on your mind. That is not how Jesus lived, and that is not how we are called to live.

Trust me, I feel it. I feel the tension of cultural ideals and the Word of God. It is so much easier to think about myself all the time than put others before me (thats our flesh’s auto set since birth). But there is no joy in it. Love yourself because you were bought with a price and considered worthy in His eyes, not because of anything you do. Love yourself not because you deserve it, but because God thought you were worthy of His love. Love yourself because you were made in His image, not because you have the perfect body, clothes or smile.

I’m waiting for a generation of women of faith who stand up for biblical principles in a world who will call them “out of date”, antiquated, and stupid. I’m not saying hate yourself, just get yourself off your mind. You will be surprised what you find. You don’t have to worry about not being taken care of either… because when you rest in His hands and take care of others, God is faithful to take care of you too. So, be free to not be in yourself. It is freedom indeed.

Finding Myself Again: The Journey of Learning I am more than a Mother and Wife

Our identity need not lie in the roles we play here on Earth, but in the stance we took when we were adopted into God’s family. I am more than mother and wife, I am first a daughter.

Katie Richards

I finished my master’s degree back in October and since then have been dealing with some identity issues. Before school ended I felt as though I still had something for myself. Yes, I was a wife and mother, but I also had school which helped me to feel like I had a meaningful purpose.

When school ended, my role switched and as I do with most things in life, I found myself pouring all of myself into my husband, son, and household, that there wasn’t much left for “me” anymore. It’s been a slow process but I have felt the burning out. The endless cycles of cleaning, cooking, and serving everyone else, and sometimes feeling like I am forgotten along the way.

My personality is a go-getter personality. Up to this point in my life, I have always had something that I was chasing after; some goal that kept the fire lit in my soul. Today as I poured my heart out to God, I wept as I told Him, “I feel like my fire is gone. I don’t even have a dream or passion for myself anymore. I’m tired of living off the vision of everyone else; I want vision again.”

I type this out with tears in my eyes because it has been the first time that I have allowed myself to feel these feelings and I will tell you why. Every time in the past I almost got to this point, I would feel guilty. If I allow myself to weep over what I feel like I have lost in this season of motherhood and marriage, then I am not being thankful for what a beautiful blessing it is.

But that isn’t true. We are allowed to be so thankful for what God has blessed us with, while also wanting our souls on fire for the things of God again. We are allowed to serve our families while not forgetting what our real passion and purposes are. Yes, God has me in this season of homemaking, but He also has other things in store for me. I am so tired of living in an “either-or” state of mind.

I am writing about this because I am sure that I am not the only young mother, wife, and woman who has felt this way before. But I offer encouragement. Today, as I wept tears of grief, weariness, and just exhaustion, God comforted my soul. “Daughter, your purpose in life is not to be a wife, mother, teacher, author, evangelist, or person in ministry. It is not to master the art of homemaking or be the one everyone comes far and wide to listen to. Your purpose is to be Mine, to seek Me in everything you do. When your heart has the right purpose in it, you will find passion in your home and on the stage.”

As I’ve poured myself into everyone and everything, I have lacked in pouring myself completely into God and the things of God. Had I purposed in my heart to serve Him first, then all the rest would easily follow. You see, exhaustion comes when we try and do everything without Him. We think we are simply doing our part and playing our roles, but God has asked we do all things according to Him.

So when I am cooking dinner, I am not simply feeding my family. I am feeding my husband, who has mighty purpose and anointing on Him. I am feeding my son, who will follow in his father’s footsteps, a prophet to the nations and mighty man of God. And I am feeding myself, a mighty woman of God with a heart for the broken and the Word of God.

When I am cleaning my house, I am making a home that is welcoming the Holy Spirit. Where the hurt and broken can come and be ministered to, through the Word or through baked goods. Where peace is present, and laughter is worship to the Lord.

We all live in seasons. And right now your season may be a stay-at-home mom or a working mom who feels like everything is spent out in serving others. I encourage you to change your mindset. To allow God to rewrite how you think about your daily life. To pray daily that God would show up and order your steps.

I am excited to see what God has in store for the future. I am. But I cannot afford to spend my time always looking ahead and forgetting what is in my today. The chances for ministry here in my own home. The chances to serve God in humility as I lay myself down and put others before me. What we cannot forget is to pour into our spiritual lives by setting aside time with Jesus as a priority.

The One Who loves you more in a second than anyone can in a lifetime longs to spend time with you. And when you set aside daily duties, to-do lists, and distractions, you will find the Well that never runs dry, ready and willing to fill up and overflow every part of you that feels empty.

So, yes I am a mother and a wife. And I love those roles that Jesus has blessed me with. But first, I am a daughter of the Most High. Adopted, created with purpose, and made for communion with my Father. So, I am opting to walk in that role first, and I know the passion and fire for the rest of my roles will come with it.

Seasons come and go, but it is what we do with them that truly matters. Enjoy your season and use it as an act of worship to God. I hope this encourages you, happy homemaking daughter!

Are you Tired? Then Go Running

I love to write. I have always loved to write, since I was little. It’s the perfect way to get my heart across to another. Often in marriage counseling or talking with friends, I tell them to write. Writing helps get our thoughts across in such a way, that often distractions can’t come through. Usually when I write on here, I write from experience, revelations, or fun ideas. Often, however, I simply ask God what He wants me to say. What do they need to hear?

Today, as I was in my time with God I felt the urge to write. And this is what He wanted me to let you know. When you’re tired, weak, exhausted, and weary: run. Physically, this idea doesn’t make much sense. When you are exhausted physically, the last thing you want to do is go running. The last thing you want to do is use what energy you have left in your reserve.

Often when we are struggling spiritually, we feel the same way. We are so exhausted from the battle, emotionally and mentally, we don’t want to use any energy left to run to Him. We would rather numb ourselves in front of the television or with groups of friends, hoping the distraction will somehow create an energy in us to deal with the struggles. But simple physics tells us nothing comes from nothing. If we do not get gas for the car, gas does not simply appear in our tanks. If we do not run to God for refuge in the storm, we won’t have the strength to go forward.

One of the verses I “run” to all too often is Matthew 11:28. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.” With my personality, I often am way too focused on doing everything myself without asking for help. I don’t know why I am this way, but I feel like a burden to ask for help. So I just do it myself. This can be one of the worst things a person can do to themselves. God made us as people who need others. We need Him. If you are feeling burnt out and exhausted, it is very possible that you are carrying a burden you were not meant to carry alone. The next part in the scripture explains a truth that set me free. Verse 29 and 30 says, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Not many know what a yoke is because not many are surrounded by farming and harvesting. A yoke is what holds two cattle together as they plow the fields. It is very important that the two remain working together, because if one pulls the yoke too fast, the other can be injured or even killed.

Jesus is telling us here that if we are exhausted and weary, it’s time we lay down our yokes and yoke up with Him. Our yokes, our burdens, our weights, are too heavy for us to carry. But when we come to Him, His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. When you are at your breaking point, feeling like you can’t push forward by yourself any more, it is not the time to run away from God, but to run towards Him. Drop your yoke of the world, and yoke up with Him.

“Cast all of your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7). Imagine your child walking alongside you on a hike. They are carrying a backpack they packed themselves before the trip and you are carrying the backpack you packed. As you hike along, the child becomes increasingly exhausted; crying, whimpering, complaining. “I can’t carry it anymore, it’s too heavy.” “Well give it to me then.” You would think the child would hand it over right? No. Instead you hear, “Well, I can carry it myself.” Or, “It’s mine though… I don’t want to hand it over….” “If I hand it over then I may lose something…” “I don’t know how to walk without carrying my backpack… if I give it to you then I don’t know how to go forward.”

Confused, you continue walking with the child. This time they stop, kneel to the ground, huffing at the exhaustion and strength it’s taking to carry the backpack. You kneel down beside them. “Honey, give it to me, I will carry it.” The child lifts their head, crying, and says, “I don’t know how.” “Just hand it me.” Crying heavily, “I don’t know how. If I give it to you, I won’t be carrying anything.” You lift their chin to you and say, “You carry my backpack, and I will carry yours.”

You take your backpack off and help them take off their backpack. As you lift it you realize how heavy it is. “What did you pack in here?” You open it up to find many stones. On the stones are written different things. One reads “fear”, another “anxiety”. There is a huge one, and on it says, “expectations of others”. You keep rummaging through the bag, pulling out the stones one by one. “Sadness”, “loss”, “depression”, “self-hate”, “suicide”, “bitterness”, “anger”, “hurt”, “abuse”, “rejection”, “condemnation”, “shame”, “guilt”. It goes on and on.

“Honey, how have you carried this for so long? Here, take mine.” The child, relieved, drops their shoulders. As they lift your bag on their shoulders, their eyes open in amazement. “It’s so light! What do you carry?” They open the bag and begin pulling out feathers. On the feathers are written many words: “faith”, “trust”, “peace”, “love”, “forgiveness”, “righteousness”, “holiness”, “joy”. The child begins crying, “You mean I could have carried this the whole time?” “Yes, honey, but don’t be sad that you have walked so far with burdens. All you have to do is hand them to me, and continue forward. And if you are tempted to pick up any rocks along the way, just give them to me.”

I know, it may sound corny, but this story is the perfect depiction of how God feels with us. You would feel so frustrated that you offered to carry your child’s burden, yet they continued in exhaustion and weariness. You would want to scream from the mountain tops, that what you had for them instead was so much better. But when we continuously rely on ourselves or others, to meet our needs and fill our emptiness rather than relying on God, we will be that child who continuously decides to carry burdens that are not ours to carry or pick up things along the road of this life, we were meant to cast away.

Enough is enough. Stop carrying the world on your shoulders and cast it onto the One Who is enough for you. Are you heartbroken? Wounded? Rejected? Bitter? Do you not know how to give it all up? Have you been walking so long with the weight that you’re afraid of what it may feel like to finally let it go?

The answer is not complicated, although the enemy wants you to believe that it is. It is simple. If you are weary, RUN. Run to Him with everything you have. Hit your knees, throw your burdens on Him. Trade your sorrows for joy. Trade your mourning for dancing. Trade your tears of grief for tears of laughter. Trade your brokenness for full restoration. Trade your bitterness for forgiveness. Trade your anger for peace. Trade your hate for love. Trade your dirtiness for righteousness. It is so much more simple than it seems.

Humble yourself. You do not have to carry it on your own any longer. You are not a burden to Him, He yearns to give you peace and rest. So, if you have been wounded and exhausted, RUN TO HIM. If you have been trying to numb yourself from reality, RUN TO HIM. If you have been running in the wrong direction, RUN TOWARDS HIM. You will find hope for hopelessness, faith for unbelief, and healing for your souls. Think on this:

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Psalm 23

He is with You in the Fire

In Daniel chapter three, the story of Meshach, Shadrach, and Abed-Nego is told. I am sure you have read the story before (if not I urge you to), but essentially what happens is they are ordered to bend down and worship the image of King Nebuchadnezzar every time they hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, or psaltery. What happens is they of course do not worship another god, and so they are ordered to be put into the furnace.

When the king says they will be put into the furnace, he asks, “Who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?” They answer essentially, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image you have set up.”

Later on, while they are in the fire, bound, those who were viewing it asked if the king had ordered only three men to be cast into the furnace, because as they looked they said, “I see four men loose (remember they were bound), walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

When they were released, they had not been touched by the fire. Not one hair had been singed, not one piece of clothing affected; the smell of smoke was not even on them.

God was speaking to me about this story the other day. Many times we pray for the storms and trials of this life not to touch us. We ask to be delivered from hardships and trouble, yet at the same time we pray to see the miracles of God at work in our life. Without trouble, how can we see miracles?

If the Israelites had not been pushed to the edge of the Red Sea without hope, how could the miracle of God splitting it be done? We want the splitting of the Red Sea, without the Egyptians following behind us. We want to see God come through mightily in our lives, without being placed in the furnace. We need to have the attitude of these three, who believe in the deliverance of God, but still say, “But if not…” We often will serve God and walk in faith as long as things are going our way. “I will serve you God, as long as it seems you are on my side.” We need to tell the enemy, “Listen, My God loves me and will deliver me from this storm, BUT IF NOT, I will still serve Him and love Him, because He is my God.” Adopt this attitude, and watch your life change.

With all that said, there was something more that God showed me through this story I had never seen before. Jesus was with them; He joined them in the fire.

With Christmas coming, it is a time we remember the story of Jesus’ birth. And we think of the baby in the manger, with the angels and gifts, and we smile. What we forget is that we are celebrating WHY He came. He didn’t come to just be a baby in a manger, He came to set us free from death and sin. And to do this He had to come wrapped in flesh.

He came in the flesh so that He could be tempted as we are, tried as we are, and troubled as we are. Yet, He did it without sin. He came in the flesh and suffered in the flesh; beaten, bruised, battered, crucified. All so that we could be free.

You see just as Jesus joined Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the furnace that day, so He “joined” us in our suffering here on Earth. Without Him, we would remain a people separated from the presence of God. Sick, dead, without hope. Now, because He joined us in the fire of humanity, we are given a hope, a new life, and complete restoration.

While this story can show how in the midst of our trials, God will show His glory, cover us in His presence, and protect us, there is also another beautiful thing. You see, God loved us so much, and was so tired of being separated from His people, He joined us.

In the furnace we set ablaze for ourselves through sin, Jesus stepped in to join in our suffering. As the three left the furnace, remember the fourth never stepped out. The three left completely untouched by the flames that were supposed to kill them. Not one hair singed. No smell of fire.

Just as that, because Jesus came and stood in our place, we can stand without a single hair singed from death and no stench of sin on us any longer. What was meant to kill us and separate us from God forever, Jesus entered into and stood in our place and now we have an Advocate at the throne.

I say all of this because this season, I believe people need to remember three things.

1. Some people need to remember the WHY behind Jesus’ coming. It was not to make you go to church more, to read your bible, or to “do” good things. It was to set you free from sin and death so that you can be one with the Father. If you aren’t one with God, ask Him to be one with you. Ask Him to forgive you and set you free. Ask Him to reign in your life. Religious duties will never stand in the gap for true relationship with God. He didn’t create you for church going, bible reading, and works. He created you for communion with Him. Remember this and be free.

2. Some people need some hope. You have been in a season of nothing but trial and tribulation. Maybe you are still in the midst of it and you are without hope. This is to remind you that we are never without hope in God, because we have a God Who loves us so much He joins us in our suffering. He didn’t leave you to suffer alone, but gladly came down and suffered in your place. Remember His faithfulness and hope in this. Trials end, but His faithfulness remains forever. Where catastrophe and storm has bruised and battered you, remember He is the God Who restores completely. When you come out of this, not one hair will be singed, and no one will be able to smell the fire you have been through. Have hope and expect in Him!

3. Remember they were bound in the fire before Jesus came. If you are bound and do not have the Lord in your life, He can set you free. What man had done to them, God had completely erased. What man had ordained for them, God rewrote their story. If the people in this world have touched your life in such a way that you believe the lie you are forever scarred and cursed to live in chains they have spoken over you, remember this: only God has the power to tell your story. What harm they intended for you, God will turn around for His Glory. You are not stained by your past, but God is the Master Artist Who can make all things new.

I want everyone in this Christmas season, not to rely on the pretty, “baby in a manger” scene. That baby in the manger was the King of everything. That baby was sent to suffer, on our behalf. That baby, after suffering for us, came back and took His seat beside the Father. We are co-heirs with Christ. This means you are no orphan, you are no victim, you are no poor man. You are new in Christ, you are a slave to sin no longer. You do not live in fear. You walk with authority and the power of God! I’m tired of seeing Christians continuing in bondage, when your inheritance is so much more. Accept the freedom due you, and walk in it.

I love you all and remember, happy homemaking! Make that home a powerful place of God’s presence and restoration!