January 5, 2002

1 John 2:15-17 – Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (NIV).

In light of recent events, I have wanted to think about where I am before God, and what He expects of me. So I went down the imaginary stairs of my consciousness, to the inner store-cupboard of my being.

I made my way past the previously opened boxes, piled in a heap on one side. For now I was keen to find the box I hoped would still be there, so I pressed on and opened the cupboard.

Yes, there it was: the box labelled, "In the need for faith, open." Its container was somewhat battered and torn by past frequent use and abuse, but lately it had become dusty. I struggled with the box as I carried it from the cupboard to a waiting table. There, in the light of the room, I rummaged inside the box and pulled out a cassette entitled "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego". Its tale can also be found in Daniel chapter 3.

I placed the cassette in the player on the table. It told of three God-fearing people who, by an attitude of faith, were blessed. They built a bridge of trust with God between a time when they faced imminent painful death in a fiery furnace by order of the king, and a time when they came out of the furnace untouched. With either outcome in mind, they had been prepared to face the fear of death, because they loved God more than this life.

This is a reminder I play for myself time and again. It tells of faithfulness expected and rewarded. I believe it speaks of daring courage and self-sacrifice in the face of painful torture. How could Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego do it? They believed their lives would be kept safe in God's hands, even through death itself.

Daniel 3:29b – For no other god can save in this way. (NIV)

Prayer: Lord, for those faced with the prospect of death, suffering, and hardship, flood your eternal light into their hearts and minds today, to bring your salvation. Show us the way you wish us to go in your Kingdom, and grant us the courage to remain faithful wherever that may lead us. Give us eyes that see the need, ears that hear the call, and a spirit that is willing to serve, to the praise of your Name. Amen.

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Rod Marshall <>
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England

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