Today was the conclusion of the reCreate Women’s Conference at Church of the Highlands and it was beyond a fabulous time! It was a fun, inviting, loving, creative, inspiring, empowering atmosphere with Gods presence so strong. The music, the women, the speakers were right on with their words. Always awesome when you feel like every word was meant for just you.
During one worship time we were singing a song and one of the lines was talking about the fire that sometimes surrounds us when facing struggles. The picture and story that God brought to me was the story of Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego in Daniel chapter 3. If you are unfamiliar with the story, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down to a statue that king Nebuchadnezzar decreed everyone must bow before and were thrown into a fiery furnace as punishment.
A lot of what was talked about at the conference was about purpose, struggles on the way to fulfilling that purpose and the strength needed to get there. I have realized that God speaks to me a lot through music and so when we were singing this song, God showed me that a lot of us face struggles and feel like we are entrapped by this raging fire all around and there is no opening to escape.
In this story in the bible, after the 3 men were thrown into the furnace, someone pointed out that they saw 4 men walking around inside unharmed. You have to imagine that this furnace was so hot the guards who threw them in there died because of the heat radiating off of it. When the king called them out and they had not been harmed, singed, or even smelled of smoke, because the power of God was in the midst protecting them from the fire that surrounded them that was meant to destroy but He used to show His glory to those faithful, the Kings eyes were opened and He declared their God was indeed all powerful.
So sometimes we will be surrounded by a raging fire, feeling the heat and pressure and will begin to feel pain unless we turn our eyes to the All Powerful God and put our trust in Him that He is more powerful than the fires all around and rely on His strength alone.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
The fires may seem like they are tearing us down, but they are actually put before us to strengthen us and increase our capacity to handle tough times and also to see is we will trust God and His strength through it or our own. I say this with true love to you and to myself….if we try to endure the fires and escape them on our own abilities, we will most certainly fail. We were not created to pass through this world alone, but to walk side by side with our Father and His unconditional love and direction.
For me, when facing those fires I am just ready to move past it and just try to jump through it. I am becoming more patient on the Lord and not trying to rush His plan before I am ready to receive it but the temptation is still there to complain and ask why He hasn’t given me freedom from it yet. One profound statement that was said today was, ” God answers our prayers, it may not be when and how we want but he does answer them and who are we to tell God what the answer should be?” Amen right? We can’t possible begin to fathom the entirety of God’s plan in our little minds and why do we get so consumed with wanting to when we haven’t developed the capacity to have that knowledge? I feel strongly that our societies mindset today is that I want it now and I want it whether I deserve it or have earned it.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked out of that furnace because their eyes and trust remained in the giver of freedom and their faithfulness was rewarded. We are required to only have the faith the size of a mustard seed and we will be given the ability to move mountains. The power of God is right before us, in the reach of our grasp, but what must come first is belief. To take a step of faith into the unknown and out of our comfort zones is not easy but when you step out relying on God to bring you into new things, it is always the most exciting journey. What we need to always remember…God is always in the midst of our struggles, He has never left you nor will ever forsake you, He has not forgotten you or what you are facing.
Sometimes I have heard myself asking God to just move me past this struggle and for it to be gone and so something I took from this conference was that we never arrive to our destination until we see Jesus on the day of His return. Until that point, we are nomads moving from tent to tent as Holly Wagner put it so perfectly last night. All throughout our lives, we are being shaped and molded to upgrade to bigger tents, but before we can move to the next tent we must first learn and accomplish everything with the tent God has put us in at this very moment before he can give us the promotion. Why? Because in order to survive the journey to the next tent, we have to enlarge ourselves in strength, courage, endurance, belief, and love.
I hope that you will read the story of these 3 men and be able to experience and grasp the true power of Almighty God and to not stop there but continue on with the many other stories like Moses, Joseph, Paul, Daniel, etc. I pray that this is just the beginning of your journey to the bigger tents as you rely completely on God and enlarge your capacity for more to reach new heights. Always remember God is always there in the midst of the fires and the struggles we do and will face and protecting you, empowering you to make it out safely and stronger to overcome the ones to come. The struggles never end, but the intensity of them lessens when we depend on a higher power. I could share so much more…I pray that this will speak and encourage those facing a struggle or struggles at this very moment to keep pressing in and TO NOT GIVE UP! I know some seem bigger than others and we can all say.. “well you just can’t possibly understand what I am facing.” Truth is, every person thinks there struggle is the biggest one because we are all in different places…but I can guarantee you that someone does understand and God wants to use you to speak into their life to help them make it through because you made it. So press in, stand up, keep fighting! I love you all dearly! Be empowered through Jesus Christ every day and experience His presence.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:7-9
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14