By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded cord isn’t easily snapped. Ecclesiastes 4:12, The Message.
One of my most favorite Bible stories as a child was a story I like to call “The Three Amigos”! It’s the tale of three buddies named Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego (I think I liked it the best because I LOVE saying their names!). Anyway, their story can be found in the Old Testament book called Daniel, in Chapter 3. Now, these three buddies were brought to King Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom of Babylon from their native Judah (along with Daniel) in order to learn the language, culture, and literature of Babylon and then take it back to their own lands to teach others. Well, what Nebuchadnezzar didn’t plan for was the absolute fiery faith these men had in God (God..as in OUR God).
Good ole King Nebuchadnezzar had a 9-story golden statue made in his honor and at the appointed time each day, a trumpet would sound and everyone was to stop what they were doing and bow down to worship the statue. Our faith-filled threesome refused to do so, because they knew it would be considered blasphemous. As you might imagine, this didn’t sit well with Nebuchadnezzar and he summoned these three friends and demanded that they do so, and the penalty of noncompliance would be death in a fiery furnace. Try as he might to convince them, their answer remained the same:
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 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” (Daniel 3:15-18).
So. Off to the fiery furnace they went tied together, taken by guards who were, themselves, killed by the intense heat of the fire while placing the three rope-bound men in.
After a short time passed, Nebuchadnezzar happened to look down into the fire pit and do you know what he saw? Not three men, but FOUR men, all walking around in the fire completely unscathed. Incensed, enraged, and utterly confused, he ordered those 4 men to come out of the fire. And wouldn’t you know, three men – our three amigos – walked out of the fire unharmed.
Amazed and stunned by the miracle he witnessed, Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed the power and majesty of their God (OUR God). And the three were allowed to live.
What happened to that fourth guy Nebuchadnezzar saw in the fire with the amigos? Well, depending on the commentary you read, that fourth person was either the “Son of God” (yes, Christ himself), or the Archangel Michael. Either way, a heaven-sent being was on the scene to protect these faithful friends from an untimely death by fire.
Well, what the moral of this story, morning glories (besides being a really fun story to tell because of all the cool names you get to pronounce!)? Well, I’m glad you asked:
1. Everybody needs “back-up” – friends to support us and stand in the gap when we cannot stand up ourselves .
2. There is MIRACULOUS strength in true friendship.
3. Standing firm in your Godly convictions is always rewarded; maybe not how you think it will/should be, but it IS rewarded.
4. God never leaves us alone – even in the fieriest of circumstances.
BUT…one the most life-changing lessons I think we can learn from these men is that leaving God out of our friendships is tantamount to throwing ourselves into a pit where every little word, action, or inaction could ignite a firestorm. I want the fire-repellant power of faith-filled friendships, don’t you?! I pray this week we can look for and act on ways to build faith even deeper into our relationships of ALL kinds, but most especially our friendships.
I don’t call you my sister friends lightly. I count on (and trust!) every single one of you to have my back, as I will have yours. To sharpen my faith and my conviction with the iron I will use for yours. To strengthen my “cord of three” as I will add strength to yours.
I pray this week we can look for and act on ways to build our faith and our God even deeper into our relationships of ALL kinds, but most especially our friendships. Love and smooches all around!
Up later this week: Easy ways to bring God into YOUR friendships!!