#14 October 4, 2005
"The Only Way Out is Through"
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior" (Isaiah 43:1-3).
I remember taking my children to the local and state fairs and watching them go into the fun house. They went through the entrance with eager anticipation, not knowing what was ahead. Once inside they faced an endless maze of sliding floors, crooked mirror images and walls that blocked their paths. One fun house in particular had an upper level about half way through, where they would be able to see me standing below watching them. There were no hidden doors and no routes of escape - the only way out was through.
The days of our lives are kind of like these fun houses, although at times we'd be tempted to say that they are not much fun at all. But just like the fun house at the fair, the only way out is through.
Through the sliding floors of sudden bad news or horrible loss, that threaten to make us lose our footing and fall, while the floor keeps twirling around underneath us. Through the crooked mirror images of lies, deceit, unkind words, low self-esteem and rejection that blur our view of what we really believe and who we are in Christ. Through the walls built up by anger, bitterness, stubbornness and hard heartedness that block our path to the abundant life that Christ died to give us. The walls of sin, the crooked mirrors built by the enemy and his deceptions, the sliding floors of the trials and tribulations we encounter everyday.
Notice that God doesn't say "when you go AROUND the waters and the rivers and the fire." He says "when you go THROUGH." He has a perfect plan for our lives and it must conform to His pattern. The highest quality is only achieved through the pressure, the fire and the floods.
Oswald Chambers says, "If we are ever going to be made into poured out wine for Him, we will have to be crushed-you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed."
"The spice frankincense only releases its fragrance in the heat of a fire. It was used to make the sacred anointing oil for kings and priests and for the incense burned as a sacrifice to God in the Jewish temple. Some forms of worship only release their sweetest fragrance to God when offered from fires of trials and adversity. The sacrifice of praise offered in times of trouble is especially sweet and pleasant to the King of Kings." ("Finding Favor with the King, Copyright 2003, Tommy Tenney).
The three Jewish boys who found themselves exiled in Babylon under the pagan king Nebuchadnezzar knew what it meant to go through. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to worship the image of gold that the king set up and found themselves thrown into a furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who threw them in. But there was a fourth man in the fiery furnace and they were not harmed - they came out and didn't even smell like smoke!! (See Daniel 3). They had a five fold victory. They were loosed from their bonds. They were protected from harm. They were comforted in trial. Their God was glorified. And as God's servants they were rewarded. (The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Moody, c. 1962).
There is also a fourth man in the fiery furnaces, waters and rivers of our lives. He is God Almighty, El Shaddai, Jesus Christ Himself. Notice how personal He is..."I have summoned you by name; you are mine" (v.1). Notice how you are not ever, ever alone - "I will be with you" (v.2). Notice who He is, "the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior" (v.3).
Notice His promises..."the rivers will not sweep over you and you will not be burned" (v.2). In Psalm 66:12 the psalmist says, "we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance."
Just as I stood below, outside the fun house looking out for my children, your Heavenly Father is waiting for you to go through. He hasn't left to go get a cotton candy or an elephant ear. He is waiting patiently and lovingly for you to come out on the other side. And when you do, "your faith, of greater worth than gold, will be proved genuine and will result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed" (1 Peter 1:7).
You will be as fine wine and choice spice. You will be ready for that place of reward and abundance that He has promised. You will be a sweet taste and a beautiful fragrance to your wondrous King!