“Walking in the midst of the fire.” Daniel 3:25
The fire did not arrest their motion; they walked in the midst of it. It was one of the streets through which they moved to their destiny. The comfort of Christ’s revelation is not that it teaches emancipation from sorrow, but emancipation through sorrow.
O my God, teach me, when the shadows have gathered, that I am only in a tunnel. It is enough for me to know that it will be all right some day.
They tell me that I shall stand upon the peaks of Olivet, the heights of resurrection glory. But I want more, O my Father; I want Calvary to lead up to it. I want to know that the shadows of this world are the shades of an avenue the avenue to the house of my Father. Tell me I am only forced to climb because Thy house is on the hill! I shall receive no hurt from sorrow if I shall walk in the midst of the fire. (Streams in the Desert)
Of all the classes I’ve taught to university or seminary students through the years, my favorite was one called “Ministry Formations.” My primary objective in the course was to encourage students to develop early on a lifelong commitment to maintaining balance between personhood and performance—who we are in Christ with what we do for Christ.
“He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep he brought himto be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.” Psalms 78:70-72 | ASV
I tend to trip into the performance trap. Deadlines become obsessions, and winning isn’t a good thing—it is everything. An unhealthy diet of doing without corresponding attention to being signals impending disaster. I experienced as such early in ministry, and struggle with the dichotomy to this very day. What I need to remember daily is that consistent communion with God trumps anything I might accomplish in His name. Quite honestly, many of the things I claim to do for Him are actually self-centered acts undertaken for my own benefit and reputation. People-pleasers find it hard to be the friend of God. Lay down the awful burden of garnering praise and earning affection; do not run from the fire but learn to rest in the midst of it by relishing the Father’s love and enjoying His companionship.