Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Set Apart

I have always been a little different.

This probably has been my mother's and my greatest struggle. Where she always wears her hair coiffed, nails regularly manicured and always dresses nicely (in case she runs into someone at the grocery store,) I opt for shaggy hair that only gets cut when I can no longer wash it and run. My last manicure was at RevTab's Lady's Spa Day in February. I tried to invest more time in keeping my nails nice, but to no avail.

Clothing must be comfortable. I mostly wear jeans or capris and any old favorite t-shirt will do, particularly if it has some funny saying on it. If I had my way, I would wear one of my four pairs of Tinkerbell pajamas EVERYWHERE. But, alas, I can only go so far in my individuality without my mother's voice in my head saying, "You're wearing THAT?????"

Unlike most women, I have only two pairs of shoes - a pair of sneakers I only wear to work out and a pair of leather clogs I wear with everything. Now that it's hot out, the clogs will disappear under my bed, and I will buy myself a pair of flip-flops. Ugh! Then I'll have to give myself pedicures regularly to keep my mother happy! Oh well!

I used to have purple hair. Burgundy hair. Shaved hair. I used to wear black and white striped tights, tights that had one leg black and one leg white, and tights that had patterns on them so my legs looked tattooed. The name Daniel or Danielle means "God is my judge." I let everyone know on a regular basis I didn't care what anyone thought about my choices in life. GOD, not anyone else, was my JUDGE. As long as I lived by God's rules for my life, I was okay. Nowhere in the Bible does it say, "Thou shall not have purple hair."

Today I couldn't find my Devotional, so I prayed with my Bible in hand and said, "Lord, direct me to the scripture you will have me study." I opened my Bible to Daniel 3.

In Daniel 3, King Nebuchadnezzar "made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon." In verse 4, "the herald loudly proclaimed, 'This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations, men of every language: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace."

Now, I don't know about you, but when I read this, I immediately envision maybe one hundred people all standing looking at this hunk of gold thinking, "Here we go again." Another king, another stupid decree. Worship the cow. Worship the block. Where do these kings come from?
But alas, when the music sounds, verse 7 continues: "all the peoples, nations, and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up." The fear of that fiery furnace was enough to bring them all to their knees.

Then I picture myself standing there. Would I have been able to stay standing? I'd like to think that I would have crossed my arms in a defiant manner and said, "Your mama!" But could I have, would I have, really? Is my faith that strong? I would like to think so. But how many times have I been speaking, emailing, blogging, thinking, when I have compromised my faith and wondered if I was offending anyone if I mentioned Jesus Christ? How many times have I forwarded those Christian-message emails to my Christian friends, only. How many times have I stood among friends and family and a completely inappropriate conversation pops up, and I smile and nod, maybe chuckle and shake my head, but say nothing. I might as well get on my knees and pray to some false idol, cause I'm shaming God anyway.

What faith Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo had! In verses 16-18, they told that King Nebuchadnezzar, "we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

Did you read that closely? Did you read the part where they said "even if he does not"? WHAT??? They went into that furnace knowing there was a slim chance God might just use them as a human sacrifice - and they still WENT????

Now that's FAITH.

And then, this is the part that I truly love: In verse 28 Nebuchadnezzar says, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God." Then Nebuchadnezzar makes another decree that "the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way."

Read that again - "NO OTHER GOD CAN SAVE IN THIS WAY." The King said it. Do you know what that means? By Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo's FAITH, they had witnessed or shared God with the king. Now we know that the king wasn't turned godly overnight. In fact God really had to have His way with him before Nebuchadnezzar would submit to God. But by the Faith of those "three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace," the king knew that "no other God can save in this way." A seed had been planted.

Now I'm not asking you to go dye your hair purple. But as Christians we are to be Set Apart. We are different. We are not "of this world." Share with me in an effort to push yourselves a little bit more every day to stay standing before God. Do not be afraid to mention His name in public. Do not be afraid to say, "Would you tell that joke to Jesus?" when someone is being offensive.

It is by our Faith that others may see. A seed may be planted and another soul won.

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