Rack, Shack and Benny

Good morning all!

Today’s scripture:

Daniel 3:19-30(NRSV)

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was so filled with rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face was distorted. He ordered the furnace heated up seven times more than was customary, 20 and ordered some of the strongest guards in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and to throw them into the furnace of blazing fire. 21 So the men were bound, still wearing their tunics, their trousers, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the furnace of blazing fire. 22 Because the king’s command was urgent and the furnace was so overheated, the raging flames killed the men who lifted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 But the three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down, bound, into the furnace of blazing fire.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up quickly. He said to his counselors, “Was it not three men that we threw bound into the fire?” They answered the king, “True, O king.” 25 He replied, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the middle of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the fourth has the appearance of a god.”26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the door of the furnace of blazing fire and said, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men; the hair of their heads was not singed, their tunics were not harmed, and not even the smell of fire came from them. 28 Nebuchadnezzar said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants who trusted in him. They disobeyed the king’s command and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that utters blasphemy against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins; for there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.”30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

shadrach-meshach-and-abednego077

ok…I can’t help it but everytime I hear this story I see this instead….

The Daniel story is such a vivid story and shows up in our brains in such storytelling form.  Kid’s videos are powerful and so whenever I even hear the start of this story I flip into Veggie Tales mode. There is an excellent song about “The Bunny” btw…maybe I will add it at the end. This story becomes a staple of the people of God by how it is retold and what it carries.  Of course we all remember that they are thrown into the fire and God stands with them.  They stay strong in their convictions and even when the worst gets worse, God shows up around them. It becomes a kid story.

Although this story is far from a kiddo story. THEY GET THROWN INTO FIRE! ALIVE! And are tortured! And and and…..you get the point.

But here is what I pick up….even when it is the crappiest of crappiest for the guys, God shows up to stand with them.  God does not stop it. God does not redirect. God does not change the events. God has not predestined it.  God does not swipe them up.  God does not change the people or the circumstance.

God shows up to be with them in it.

I get asked so many interesting things but the question I get asked more than anything and I wish I could answer is…”Why did God let that happen?” and “Where is God?”  In fact, yesterday, a staff member in our staff meeting proclaimed, “God was not with those victims.”  We talk about where we have seen God during the week.  We prayed about it but what I should have said was.  Yes, God was standing right next to them even when the worst happened to them. Even in unexplainable violence. I believe God was the one who held them even in that and then held their families as they began to mourn.

When bad stuff happens…and it will to all of us….God isn’t the one who abandoned us, God is the one who shows up in the fire to be present with us. God is the people around us who help us survive, who hold us.  God is the food brought to our door or the person who said just the right thing or the person who cries with us.  God is the one who makes sure our flight is changed so we can get to where the crisis is happening or that extra sense of courage.  God is the person who just stops by…

You get the point. Where is God showing up for you today?

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