Originally published Monday, 21 May 2012.
Lately I've been indirectly fearful. I'd like to call it smart, trusting, or even okay with whatever happens. But now I see it for what it is: faux (or fake) peace. I think we all experience some degree of faux peace at different points in our life.
This time, I am afraid that if I ask God for what I want or what I think I need, and He says No, then I won't trust Him anymore. I'm afraid I'll lose faith, which isn't super big right now as it is. In fact, it's about the size of a mustard seed (aka: just enough).
It's easier for me to let Him assume His rightly placed position as the Sovereign Creator of Heaven and Earth and do whatever He wants. Right now, it's easier for me to have no say in the matter I am begging for. It's easier to be the empty vessel by which He does His will.
But that's not what He wants.
He wants relationship.
He wants partnership.
He wants struggle and brokenness to become undeniably beautiful by burning away the dross and muck.
He wants the Church to be built by witnessing and praying and weeping and laughing with one another.
He wants us to ask Him, together, so that our circumstances do not effect just us, as individuals, but all of us, as a community.
There's a story in Daniel 3 about three men who trusted God with their lives and He let them go to their impending death by way of a burning hot furnace. They had refused to disclaim God as the only object of their worship and they were to be punished for that stark decision.
We'll start reading in Daniel 3:19-29 (MSG)
Nebuchadnezzar, his face purple with anger, cut off Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace fired up seven times hotter than usual. He ordered some strong men from the army to tie them up, hands and feet, and throw them into the roaring furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, bound hand and foot, fully dressed from head to toe, were pitched into the roaring fire. Because the king was in such a hurry and the furnace was so hot, flames from the furnace killed the men who carried Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to it, while the fire raged around Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Suddenly King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in alarm and said, "Didn't we throw three men, bound hand and foot, into the fire?"
"That's right, O king," they said.
"But look!" he said. "I see four men, walking around freely in the fire, completely unharmed! And the fourth man looks like a son of the gods!"
Nebuchadnezzar went to the door of the roaring furnace and called in, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the High God, come out here!"
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked out of the fire.
All the important people, the government leaders and king's counselors, gathered around to examine them and discovered that the fire hadn't so much as touched the three men—not a hair singed, not a scorch mark on their clothes, not even the smell of fire on them!
Nebuchadnezzar said, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel and rescued his servants who trusted in him! They ignored the king's orders and laid their bodies on the line rather than serve or worship any god but their own.
"Therefore I issue this decree: Anyone anywhere, of any race, color, or creed, who says anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will be ripped to pieces, limb from limb, and their houses torn down. There has never been a god who can pull off a rescue like this."
The faith that was developed in those three men was put to the test and proved to be a life-changing experience for everyone around them. The testing of their faith wasn't for them. I'm sure their faith and trust in God grew radically. I mean, they survived the inside of a furnace that killed men from the outside. But they already had confidence in who God was before they passed the test. This wasn't for them.
I am quickly realizing that what we are going through right now, it isn't for us. Sometimes I know that, and don't care. It hurts too much. Other times, like this morning, I know that and weep while seeing another woman weep because she too, is feeling the same sorrow. And it's those times that remind me just how much I love my God.
It's in those time my faux peace is exposed and I desperately cling to His word for strength and real, all-surpassing peace.
I end with my journal entry from May 7, 2012:
Talk to me, God. Teach me. Show me what you are doing. Guide me and give me peace. I want that all surpassing peace you promise in Philippians. Please. When we do conceive, I pray in faith, God I want the circumstances to bring honor and glory to You. I want, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to have a faith so strong and a story so rich with Your presence that it causes people, like king Nebudchadnezzer, to have life-changing encounters with You. If we're going to do this, we might as well do it big, eh?
I know many of my prayers are *misguided. I pray for comfort instead of character. I pray for an easy way out instead of the strength to make it through. I pray for no pain, when the result would be no gain. I pray that You would keep me out of the pits and away from the lions. But if you answered every one of those prayers, it would rob me of my greatest opportunities.
Are you living in faux peace? Do you long for the all surpassing peace? It's okay, me too. Email me or post your prayer request in the comments below.
(*Portion of journal paraphrased from this book)