Some of the stories you come across in the Bible are so horrifying – and so human – that they still have a compelling immediacy. People do the most horrible things to one another, it mystifies me. This King, Nebuchadnezzar, is so incensed that his Jewish bureaucrats won’t bow down and worship his statue that he orders them cast into a furnace, which he heats seven times hotter than normal. That’s pretty angry!
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was so filled with rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face was distorted. He ordered the furnace to be heated up seven times more than was customary, 20and ordered some of the strongest guards in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and to throw them into the furnace of blazing fire. 21So the men were bound, still wearing their tunics,* their trousers,* their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the furnace of blazing fire.
22Because the king’s command was urgent and the furnace was so overheated, the raging flames killed the men who lifted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23But the three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down, bound, into the furnace of blazing fire.
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up quickly. He said to his counsellors, ‘Was it not three men that we threw bound into the fire?’ They answered the king, ‘True, O king.’
25He replied, ‘But I see four men unbound, walking in the middle of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the fourth has the appearance of a god.’* 26Nebuchadnezzar then approached the door of the furnace of blazing fire and said, ‘Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!’
So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counsellors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men; the hair of their heads was not singed, their tunics* were not harmed, and not even the smell of fire came from them.
28Nebuchadnezzar said, ‘Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants who trusted in him. They disobeyed the king’s command and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that utters blasphemy against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins; for there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.’ 30Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
When I read this, I think of the recent legislation proposed in Kuwait against insulting God or his prophets. Let men insult. Let them build their gods, their statures, let them pursue their little gods of vanity, power and wealth. The one true God laughs. He holds all the true power. He doesn’t need our protection; he is in charge.
In Florida, some friends complain about “the law that says our kids can’t pray in school.” There is no law that says kids can’t pray in school. Kids pray in school all the time! I did, specially when I had a really hard test I hadn’t prepared adequately for What the law says is that no one can make all pray together, using the same words, as we did at one time. It’s not such a bad thing; even as Christians, we don’t all share the same beliefs. You might not want your children praying a prayer I might compose because I might have a dogmatic belief a little different from your own. Our job is to teach our children to pray; the Holy Spirit will be with them, and put the words in their hearts.
I rarely miss a water aerobics class. The Y makes it easy, even if I oversleep, there is also a 0930 class, or if I’m feeling bad, there are also classes on Tuesday and Thursday. Since I’m going to have to make it up anyway, I just go. I rarely feel bad enough to stay home, and most things I can schedule for after my class.
Any kind of aerobics class is funny. I try to be friendly to everyone, because these classes can be a real pain in the patootie if there are cliques or snobs, it starts to feel like junior high all over again, and God knows, that was bad enough the first time. Life is too short.
But there is one spot I really like. I like to be in the back of the class, so I can exercise harder or differently and not confuse anyone else. I’ve been doing water aerobics for a while and sometimes while the rest of the class is doing cross-country, for example, I will do it off the floor of the pool, or do an extra kick on the jacks, things like that, so it just works better for me to be at the back of the class. I also like to be at a certain depth, not too deep and not too shallow. So . . . regrettably . . . I am one of those people who have a spot.
Sometimes if I am a little late someone else stands in “my” spot and I have to stand somewhere else. I don’t worry about it, people in these classes come and go, and I usually get to stand there. If I don’t, I am still OK.
There are two other women on the back wall with me, who are pretty much always in their same places, and we really do have a good time. I joke that we are the barnacles, stuck to the back wall. This morning, I complimented one of them on her earrings, and she said they were amethysts for February, and as it turns out, we all have birthdays within one week of one another in February – all three of us, within one week. What an amazing coincidence.
She worked us hard this morning, and it is a good thing, as I fly this afternoon for Seattle. Keep me in your prayers for safe travels, and travel mercies, please!
This sunset sort of made me think about the heavens opening and the hand of God coming out – yep, sunsets in the Pacific Northwest are like that.
As I sat in the Kuwait airport, waiting, waiting, waiting . . . .I ran into a friend also heading to Doha, and we spent some time together. For one thing, she told me about Villagio, which didn’t exist when I lived in Doha.
If I lived in Doha, this is where I would spend my summer, walking along the avenues and gondola filled lagoons of Villagio. After a good stroll, I could sit down at one of the many restaurants and cafes and wipe out all the good work I had done strolling!