So…. I hit a possum on the way home last night. Buuuuut they kind of look like giant rats soooo…. I’m pretty comfortable with that. I feel like I did the world a favor. No need to thank me, but you’re welcome. The thump of your car hitting a creature though is a tad disturbing. Gross.
And this happened today. I do barn chores the right way you guys. Just dressin’ the part. Maybe I’ll break the ball gown out one of these days. For the ball obviously, not the barn chores.
And got this in the mail today. Because of the information they have on file about me…. What the?!? What kind of information does a nonprofit organization have on file that leads them to send a 2XL men's shirt to my place of employment? I’m kind of offended. But seriously, it totally made me laugh. I think they would have been better off just sending the shirt without an explanation. And the reality is I love this organization. If you have never looked into Samaritan's Purse or taken part in their Operation Christmas Child…. It’s an awesome thing!
I opened up a word document yesterday and wrote down the title Even If. I had read Daniel 3 and was so struck by those two words. I had no doubt a lesson was to be had…. And the Lord did not disappoint. Last night I stopped by a friends house to share my heart regarding a few things that had recently happened. As I was sitting there talking to her she was like Stephanie…I just read Daniel 3…. This is totally the Even If.
“Are you kidding me?” I told her “I literally just opened a document today and wrote those two words down.” Now, I feel like at this point this shouldn’t surprise me. The Lord so clearly orchestrates the details when I pay attention. And yet every time, it leaves me in awe.
God is good, friends.
So background to Daniel 3. The King made a statue of himself. A golden statue. Speaking of golden statues… I saw a golden statue recently…. just kidding… I’m not touching that one with a ten foot pole. Anyway, the king made a statue of himself and wanted everyone to worship him. If the term narcissist existed in this day, I’m pretty sure that's what this king would have been. Three men, however, chose not to bow down to this idol. If you have any childhood church experience I would bet money that you’ve heard this one before. Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego. They refused to worship and thus got thrown into the fiery furnace. Knowing what was about to happen to them, this was their response to the king:
We don’t need to talk about this anymore. We might be thrown into the blazing furnace. But the God we serve is able to bring us out of it alive. He will save us from your powerful hand. But we want you to know this. EVEN IF we knew that our God wouldn’t save us, we still wouldn’t serve your gods. Daniel 3:16-18
Two little words.
Total game changer.
Fun fact and I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before. I love myself some lists. In the last year I learned a new term for these lists. Punch lists. I had no idea what this term was before this last year. Thanks to a construction project and one good looking site supervisor this term quickly made its way into my vocabulary. Because let’s be honest, Punch List sounds so much cooler than anything else I was calling it.
And so now I love myself some Punch Lists. The problem though is that I tend to treat life like those lists. If I do this, this, and this, then I should get this, this and this. Guess what, friends? That’s not how life works.
Because the reality is life isn’t fair. And in one sense, I am so thankful for that. Wait?! What?!
Here’s the thing. Have you ever considered that if life was fair, our sin would forever separate us from God, no ands, ifs or buts about it.
We sin. God is perfect. Our sin separates us from him. Fair would mean that’s just how it is. End of story.
But the story doesn’t end there. Because of his love for us, God sent his son to die for us.
Someone gave up their life for you. Yeah, that seems fair (please read that with as much sarcasm as possible).
Someone died probably one of the most painful deaths known to man on the off chance that you might decide to put your faith in his love for you and choose to follow him. On the off chance that what he did for you might change your life and how you live.
You guys that’s not fair. But that is love. The most genuine and self-sacrificing kind of love there is. I recently had to have the hardest conversation I have ever had in my life to date... and I’ve had to have some hard conversations in life. As I sat there just trying not to end up on the floor sobbing, I feel like I got just a glimpse of what self-sacrificing love looks like. It shattered my heart. It didn’t involve giving up one's life, but it did involve complete and total sacrifice of one’s self. I would imagine a lot of parents know the heartache of this kind of self-sacrificing love.
And in that I’m reminded of…. EVEN IF.
Life’s not fair, but because of that we see God’s love because he sacrificed his son to die on the cross for us. So EVEN IF life doesn’t go the way you want it to, would you still be willing to follow him? EVEN IF he takes someone from you that you love, are you still going to love him? EVEN IF tragedy or turmoil or despair takes hold, will you still keep your hope in him? EVEN IF he doesn’t heal a sick loved one or he leaves you single, or a spouse cheats on you, or you can’t have children, or your children won’t talk to you, or financial ruin strikes, or you are in a miserable marriage… can you keep the big picture of eternity in perspective. I want to say I can… BUT YOU GUYS… IT’S SO HARD!
But God is bigger than our hard.
I still love myself some Punch List but I’ve learned that simply checking things off my list isn’t the way I want to approach life. It’s not because of who I am and what I’ve done, but because of God’s great mercy. And I’m thankful for that because the reality is my Punch List could be forever long and it still would never begin to touch the grace that the Lord has shown me. These three men expected big things from their big God, but they were willing to follow him… EVEN IF. And that’s right where I want to be.
In some kind of Cinderella costume obviously.