“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them,
for it is the LORD your God who goes with you.
He will not leave you or forsake you.”
One of my older sisters once told me something my mom told her, but since my mom died when I was sixteen, I can’t confirm it, so I am getting this second hand. But apparently when I was a baby, my mom took me to a convent to see a friend of hers right after I was born. While Mom was holding me in the chapel area, an old nun walks up to her and peeks at the baby in her arms (me) and asks to hold me. Cradling me in her arms, she said something to the effect of: “Oh my, this child will lift up the Lord’s name one day.”
And yeah, I did. Uh … in vain, unfortunately. Most of you know that I was a wild child of the 60’s and 70’s before I came to the Lord at the age of 23, and trust me, I did my fair share of “lifting up the Lord’s name” in a manner I am not very proud of today. But the good news is that my past is over and done and redeemed by the precious Blood of Jesus Christ, so thank God for His mercies that are new everyday.
Why am I telling you this? Because as our verse so carefully points out today, God “goes with us” and will never “leave or forsake us,” Not even when we turn away from Him or don’t acknowledge Him in our lives like I did for so many years. God has called me to write for Him—just like He called EACH of us according to our talents—to “lift up His name” in everything we say and do. The fact that He has been “hovering” over me since I was a baby and even “knew” me in my mother’s womb (“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Jeremiah 1:5), following me through all the steps of rebellion where I didn’t even know if He existed or not, gives me goose bumps. There’s a really good reason that one of His names is “Emmanuel” or “God with us” … because He is! Always!!
So, what prompted this Journal Jot today? Well, it was one of my Scripture readings this week from Daniel 4:22-23. You know, the story about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being thrown into the fiery furnace because they wouldn’t bow down to the King’s God? It said in that reading that “the king’s command was SO urgent and the furnace SO hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.” HOLY SMOKE — now that’s hot!! They were firmly tied up together and tossed in, and as you know, not a hair on their heads was scorched. But here are the lines that stopped me dead in my tracks:
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”
25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
WOW!! Now THAT gave me cold chills because it was as if God was saying, “I am with you ALWAYS, Julie, even when you go through the fire.
The fire. Ah, yes, those awful times in our lives when we are tempted to give up, the times when our lives or our relationships hang in the balance, or when we or our loved ones are suffering with sickness, or any number of other heartbreaks bringing us down. He is THERE in the midst of it with us whether we know it or not. There whether we believe in Him or not.
Like the time when I was a rebellious and agnostic teenager walking home at 2:00 AM with my girlfriend? And a carload of guys we didn’t know squealed to a stop, hurling their car doors open to run after us? Yep, He was there with me when my girlfriend darted off in the direction of her house and I ran around the house of a widow neighbor who was hard of hearing, screaming my head off while two of the guys chased me, probably to throw me in the car for sport. Heart pounding and huffing like crazy, I sprinted for the neighbor’s front door, ramming my finger to the doorbell as the guys caught up with me on the front porch. Would you believe that deaf little old lady opened her door at that exact moment? Now I ask you—if you were a little old lady living alone, would YOU open the door at 2:00 AM in the morning?? And if you were sleeping AND hard of hearing, would you really get to the door that fast?? I rest my case. God was THERE on that porch with me, I know that now. He was there when those guys hightailed it to their car and sped away, and He was there when I cried myself to sleep that night.
Emanuel. God with us. And, oh honey, He WAS with us ten years ago during that awful time when a doctor told us he thought my son had cancer and I was having nightmares wide awake, seeing him in a coffin or myself standing by his grave. Trust me, it’s murder having a wild imagination, especially if you can’t turn to the God who will never leave you or forsake you. But HE was there, steadying me with His Word during one of the worst weeks of my life, and here’s the story and the healing Scriptures that got me through. http://www.julielessman.com/from-the-heart/
So, whatever you are going through today, whatever fire is trying to consume you or your family, know this: God is with you, always, just like that fourth guy in the furnace above with our three friends, we have an awesome God Who will get you through unscathed, so TAKE ADVANTAGE!! I know I do! 🙂
I am laying low on blog interviews these days to crank on writing books, but one of my dearest reader friends AND the 2nd place winner of my “Have a Character Named After You” review contest, Michelle Tuller, is having her 1-year blogaversary this next week, so I just couldn’t pass that up. Michelle is giving away A Passion Most Pure (with a signed book plate) and I am giving the same winner their choice of any of my other books, including Steven’s story next year, A Love Surrendered, PLUS winner’s choice of a top CBA book from my library. So if that appeals, stop by and say hey with a comment at:
Hope to see you there, and HAPPY WEEKEND!!