Tuesday, November 18, 2008

in the fire

I've received many emails, comments, phone calls, and cards sharing your sympathy in my mom's passing, so I wanted to post how I've been doing...and what God's been doing.

You may know the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego from the book of Daniel. These three God-lovin' guys refused to worship the golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar, so the King ordered them to be bound and thrown into the fiery furnace. In a fit of rage, Nebuchadnezzar demanded the furnace to be heated 7 times hotter than normal.

I'm a cold-booded girl and love the heat. Before my sweaty M came home, I used to drive with my heat on full blast and never turn it down until I arrived at my destination. Nevermind that my eyeballs would dry out and my fingertips catch on fire. I loved the almost-oppressive feel of the heat surrounding me. When I think of heat in terms of the trials in life, however, I'd prefer the thermostat to be set much lower. You know, cool and comfortable...like San Diego weather.

Sometimes we have little control over the things that heat up our lives...unforeseen financial troubles, debilitating illnesses, unfaithful spouses, untimely deaths of loved ones. They simply engulf us like vicious flames and leave us gasping for air...and just when we think we can't take any more, the heat is turned up like Nebuchadnezzar's furnace.

"I have a tumor in my lung."

I feel the heat.

"The cancer has spread to my brain."

Hotter.

"He told me to go home and prepare for hospice."

Hotter.

"Tish, she's gone."

How much hotter, Lord?

Back to the book of Daniel...the three men were thrown into the fiery furnace but, when the King looked inside it, he saw not three but four figures! The consensus of most Bible scholars is that the fourth figure was a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. Jesus was there in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. Yes, God allowed them to go through the fire, but He did not allow them to go through it alone.

I have read Philippians 4:7 many times and wondered about this peace which "surpasses all understanding." I know that this side of Heaven I'll never be able to comprehend the ways of an infinite God; however, I do know that He has been covering me in a peace that I have never felt before. During the week following my mother's death I found myself repeatedly asking Him, "Is this what your peace which surpasses understanding feels like?" This doesn't mean that there hasn't been (and will continue to be) grief...the deep grief of loss that mercilessly entangles itself around your heart and brings that heavy sense of ache. Yes, the grief has been present, but it has been overshadowed by His steady and faithful outpouring of peace.

I believe, in my case, this peace has come through the power of His Word and its unshakeable truth. Before I knew God, I would say something like "Oh, he/she is in a better place now" when someone passed away. I didn't know what I meant by that statement or that I even believed it. Just exactly where was that place and why was it better? It simply sounded like the right thing to say. Now, however, I lean on His words and the truths that they convey.

I know with confidence that
My mother was reconciled to God through her faith in Jesus.
Because of that, she is now in heaven with Jesus.
Heaven is a FAR better place.
She is not mourning her death.
She may have wondered "why me?" while on this earth, but now she has clear understanding.
I will see her again.

And back to Daniel one more time...when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came out of the furnace, they were not charred, singed, or burned. In fact, they didn't even smell of smoke. The only thing that had been destroyed by the fire? The ties that bound them. (Cool, huh?...but that's a whole other post by itself). Needless to say, King Nebuchadnezzar was astounded when he witnessed this. However, I love that the King did not say, "I will worship you, you flame-retardant fellows" or "All bow to the heat-resistant ones!"

No, he did not praise the men. Instead He praised the God of the men.

My God has been faithful. Jesus has not only walked through the fire with me, but He has carried me the entire way. Join me in praising Him!

This song has been my comfort food: ANCHOR OF MY SOUL
(Ooops, seems like this link isn't working. The song is by Telecast if you are interested in hearing it.)

And...because my mom would have shuddered at the thought of a post without photos....i'm still practicing, practicing, practicing...

18 comments:

Tisra said...

I don't check your blog often and am sorry to see your mother passed. I lost my mom to breast cancer nearly 9 years ago. You have amazing resolve and wonderful assurance. The Lord does carry us who believe... I know that all too well. It does not mean that we don't feel grief; we just have a different perspective- one filled with hope and peace and strength (not our own).

Tisra
waiting for Taiwan referral (FEC list 04/2007)
http://lifetrain.blogspot.com
www.tisrafadelyoriginals.etsy.com

Dianne said...

Tish,

You are a wonderful witness for our Lord and Savior. I will continue to pray for you and your family.

Barbie said...

This was beautiful. I am so thankful for my faith. I don't know how others get through life without clinging to Him. Your words are very comforting.

Lynn said...

Beautiful words Tish. You are in my prayers.

Jenna said...

Wow, Tish- you always have such a good perspective on things. God will use you mightily because you always look for Him in every circumstance of life. What a wonderful, and honest, testimony! Thank you for sharing. I'm still praying for you!

dan and rachel said...

tish,
thank you for posting such heartfelt words. i am so glad that you have been encompassed in God's peace as you've walked through this fire.

"He knows the way that I take. When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold." Job 23:10

you're all gold, my friend!

xo,
rachel

The Family K. said...

Thanks for the thoughtful perspective that has no doubt been borne of a lot of prayer, reflection, and clinging hard to God, even though it can't be easy.

Another great set of pictures. I esp. love the shots of the white dress.

Lisa said...

I'm not at all surprised to witness another amazing & humbling facet to your faith, spirit & soul. You continue to grace us all by sharing your heart........thank you.
Both you & your family continue to be in my thoughts & prayers.
((Hugs))
Lisa C.

Christi said...

Tish. Wow. I'm at a loss for words. I'm so glad that I thought to check your blog today. I lost my Mom when I was 4 and sometimes I still struggle with that. And look at you. I'm amazed and blessed by your testimony. And apparently not at such a loss for words anymore. lol. Thank you.

Andrea said...

Perfect.
I am glad to see this.
I have wondered how you were doing.
I love that you share your feelings and faith the way that you do.
I am praying for you and Smooch.
I know the holidays are here and things will not be the same.
Call me if you need to talk.

I love you,
Andrea

Shannon said...

i have felt that peace as well when i've been in the lowest days of my life...yet i never thought to relate them to the fiery furnace story. such a beautiful picture. thanks for sharing. been thinking of you.

Tracy said...

What a powerful post. You are such a great witness to all of us. Thank you!

You remain in our prayers. LOVE!

kris said...

you are such an inspiration to me tish... how my heart soared reading this post and then looking at your incredible photos. i was reminded of Isaiah 43:1-4: "But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine. When you pass through the water, I will be with you; in the rivers you shall not drown. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned; the flames shall not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in return for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and glorious, and because I love you"...

By far, one of my favorite readings, and I'd forgotten this story that you shared here. Thank you for bringing me ever closer to God.

You amaze me with your strength.

much love to you as you move through your grief.

Hauswife said...

Tish, this is so beautiful... I've been thinking about and praying for you, thinking about how much of life is about enduring suffering and remaining faithful. Thank you for this.

Sherry said...

I am so sorry to hear about your mama. I know she is looking down on you now with a huge smile and at total peace. Kobi & I will be thinking of you guys and your post was just beautiful:)

{{{HUGS}}}

Beverly said...

wonderful post.

Tami said...

Tish, you are a special treasure and never cease to amaze me. I'm so happy to hear you have been enveloped in His peace during this difficult time. Your strength and faith in Him shines for many to see. Sending hugs and continued prayers!

Rebecca of "China, Baby!" said...

Wow, you sound like me. I have my heated seat full blast whenever I drive... never mind that my butt is about to catch on fire...

I so appreciate your post on so many levels. The fire is definitely not the place we would choose, but it's where God purifies us and brings Himself glory (blessing us in the process). I love your observation that the ropes were the only thing burned away. I wonder how much freedom we miss because we aren't willing to follow God into the flames.

I love you - and I love your photos - they are beautiful! The first one of the dress is breathtaking (dreamy)... I love the ones of M where the toys, and his hand with bubbles on it, are in focus and his little face is in the background. Precious!!

Hugs & much love!