Thursday, May 10, 2012

May The Fourth Be With You

Before Indianapolis built Lucas Oil Stadium for the Indianapolis Colts they played in the RCA Dome or as most people in Indiana referred to the stadium, until the day that it was imploded, ‘The Hoosier Dome’. Teams throughout the NFL dreaded coming to play in Indy because the RCA Dome was loud! The Colts prided themselves on having the greatest ‘12th man on the field’ in the NFL. ‘The 12th man on the field’ and the ‘6th man on the court’ are often credited with helping take teams to the next level of professional sports.

The Colts have a fantastic new stadium in Lucas Oil! It’s huge! It’s not very noisy. The crowd gets lost in the cavernous space. The Colts came in last place.

Now they are depending on ‘Luck’. Literally! His name is Andrew Luck to be precise. The fact of the matter is that all of the Luck in the world is meaningless if he doesn’t have the support of ‘the 12th man on the field.'

This discussion of football stadiums and ‘the 12th man on the field’ of course brings me to Daniel! Not the story of the lions’ den. They have a new stadium too by the way – the Lions of Detroit that is. It’s called Ford field and hopefully it will help the Lions because nothing else ever has; and once again this year, they will not have Luck on their side.

Let’s get back to Daniel who by the way did not live in Detroit, but lived in Babylon. He was forced to move there as a child; perhaps in much the same way that you would have to take somebody kicking and screaming to Detroit today. I have been taking a journey through Daniel this past week and have taken tremendous comfort in what most people only think of as a children’s story.  The story that grabbed my attention in such a profound way this week has nothing to do with Daniel or lions. It has everything to do with heat, but not the NBA team. It does, however, have something to do with Shaq – not O’Neal. This guy’s name was MeShaq. There were a couple of other guys that hung out with MeShaq that were given rather odd names as well by their new owner the King of Babylon, who picked them up during a scouting trip in Israel. Their names were Shadrach and Abednego. These three guys with the exquisite names had even more exquisite faith!

Shadrach, MeShaq, and Abednego were non-conformist of the first order! Their new owner had issued a decree that everyone was to bow down to a golden image when the musicians of the kingdom struck up the band. Shadrach, MeShaq, and Abednego refused even though they knew that refusal to obey meant that they would be thrown alive into a blazing furnace!

When their day of execution by fire came they told the King “the God we serve is able to save us.” What faith! Or perhaps, what positive thinking! The real words of faith are what they utter next – “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.” Now that’s faith! And, that’s what ticked the king with the even stranger name – Nebuchadnezzar – off! He cranked the heat up as high as it would go. The furnace was so hot that the guys that threw the three guys with the weird names in the fire were instantly incinerated!

What happens next is the sole reason for my writing this blog post. Nebuchadnezzar peers into the furnace and sees not three, but four guys! There is a fourth man in the furnace! And the fourth man “Is like the son of the gods.” The King almost had it right, but not quite.  It was The Son of The God! This fourth man was now walking in the fire with the other three and not a hair on their heads was singed and their clothing was not burned. When Nebuchadnezzar dragged them out of the furnace they didn’t even smell like smoke! I can’t even stand at the counter of the gas station more than 30 seconds without coming out smelling like a pack of Camels – the cigarettes not the animals – and these guys come out of a furnace without smelling like they have even been at a wiener roast!

I don’t know what fiery trial that you are going through right now, but I know this. Your chances of coming out ok are greatly diminished without the presence of the fourth man walking through it with you! He wants to walk through it with you! But, He only shows up for those that plan on winning in the first place! The ‘12th man on the field’ tends not to show up for teams that have lost heart and neither does ‘the 4th man’.  But, for those that will stand and say, “Even if he does not show up . . . I will not bow to this world” you can guarantee that ‘the 4th man’ will be there in all of His glory! The Nebuchadnezzar’s of this world are watching you go through your trials church. Will they watch you go through it alone or will they see someone in the fire with you?

May ‘the fourth’ be with you!

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