“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us…” – Daniel 3:17 (NIV)
I‘ve never been a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions, but this year was different. Maybe it has something to do with entering a new decade. Whatever the reason, I felt an unexpected motivation to commit to two resolutions. First, I resolve to spend less time with my eyes glued to a screen and more time with my nose in a book. And second, I resolve to be more organized.
About this time every year, I have a tradition of cleaning out my closets. It may have started as an attempt to make room for the abundance received on Christmas day. But I’d like to think my tradition stems from the fact that there’s something promising, something hopeful about starting the year fresh and uncluttered.
One thing’s for sure, the process to get there is painful. It’s hard to let go of things. This year was no exception. In addition to cleaning out our master bedroom closet, my family and I attempted to clean out our basement too. Little did we know, the endeavor would ignite an emotional landmine! We quickly became grumpy and tired. My husband and I found ourselves in the middle of a heated disagreement over expectations. Yet, as painful as the process was, the end result was worth it. Nothing beats the feeling of clean closets (and a clean basement) once it’s finished. There’s space. There’s room to breathe. There’s freedom.
Our relationship with the Lord is much the same way. We clutter our hearts and store a ton of junk there. But God desires more for us than that. He doesn’t want us to live burdened down by the weight of our mess. This is why He invites us to keep company with Him—so that we can learn to live freely and lightly. (Matthew 11:30).
Who doesn’t want to live life with margin to breathe and room to live freely and lightly? Yet most of us refuse this invitation. Why? Because we must first go through some pain before we can achieve “clean closets.” Fortunately, God promises that we don’t have to go through the fire alone.
I was recently reminded of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the book of Daniel. It’s the story of three friends who were thrown into a blazing furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar for refusing to worship a false god. Despite their circumstances, the friends remained steadfast in their faith. As a result, God not only stood with them in the fire, but He also rescued them. The story explains that when the King’s servant went to check on the men, he reported, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:25, NIV). All those who witnessed the event “saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.” (Daniel 3:27).
We serve a mighty and tender God who only allows us to experience the fire for our good and His glory. The same God who stood with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fire more than two thousand years ago is the same God who willingly stands with us today in whatever fiery circumstance we face. More than that, His Word promises that when we reach the other side we will not be scorched nor smell like fire. Instead, others will look at us and see Jesus, the One who saves. Why? Because when we’re willing to accept His invitation to walk through the fire, we can’t help but reflect the One who rescues us.
There’s nothing like starting the New Year fresh. So let’s seek our tender Savior together and ask Him to declutter the closet of our hearts so that we can abide in Him unhindered and free!