By Pastor Donald Parker
All of us, from time to time, find ourselves in a situation where God is calling us to make a tough decision. We would prefer to just sit straddling the fence hoping it all works out rather than make a decision. We hope someone else will jump in and do it so we don’t have to; or we hope someone else makes the tough decision, so we won’t need to.
In Daniel 3:1-28, there is a story about three young men that find themselves faced with making a tough decision. The three young Jewish men in this story are named; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and they lived under the rule of a cruel and powerful king named Nebuchadnezzar.
The story begins with the king deciding to build a ninety foot gold statue. Then he issued an order that whenever people heard music begin to play, everyone must fall facedown and worship the gold statue. Sure enough the music started playing, and people everywhere stopped what they were doing and hit the ground bowing and worshipping the gold statue. The three young men find themselves in a situation that is going to require them to make a tough decision. They can’t straddle the fence; they must decide. Do we stand, or do we bow? This story teaches us that tough decisions require: a choice, courage and confidence.
So everybody is facedown worshipping the gold statue and the tattle tales show up. They go to the king and say everybody else has bowed down to the golden statue except the three boys. They refuse to do it king! Well, that didn’t go over well with the king, so he told them to bring the boys in. Once they arrive, Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold that I have set up?” Listen, let me say it again, when you hear the music play, you guys bow down and worship the golden statue. If you’ll do that great, but if you don’t, you’ll be thrown into the blazing furnace. “Then we’ll see what god is able to rescue you from my hand?”
he boys had a tough decision, bow down, or die. Simply put, choose God, or deny Him? The same choice you and I must make; will we choose God, or will we deny Him? Once you’ve made your choice, you must then have the courage to stand behind that choice. Courage doesn’t mean that you’re fearless; courage is you being willing to face the danger, the difficulty, the uncertainty, even the pain, without being overcome by fear. The three young men in our story had courage and told the king, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it…But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
Once you make the right choice and have the courage to stand behind it, tough decisions require confidence. I’m not talking about having confidence in yourself, or anyone else or anything else, but confidence in God; to carry you through the uncertainties, the difficulties, the challenges, even the fears. The boys in our story were confident, in God. They knew God was aware of their situation and that He would save them if that was what He chose to do.
Their decision made the king furious, so he had the furnace cranked up seven times hotter, and had the three boys tied up and thrown in the fire. And you know what happened? King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the fire and said “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Then he called for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to come out of the fire. And Scripture tells us they were unharmed! Not a hair on their head was scorched, their clothes weren’t burnt and they didn’t even smell like smoke.
Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 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.” Every one of us must make a choice, either accept Jesus Christ, or deny Him. You must choose Jesus then have the courage to keep following Him and every day regardless of your situation, place your confidence in God’s good plan for your life.