When we are in those conditions, we know the right path. We know the way God would have us go. Sometimes we don't want to admit that we know... We like to wallow in our own misery because we simply don't like the right path.
Then there are times when the right path seems a bit risky. We know that there are all of those "Bible Promises" out there, that guarantee that God's way is the best. But when you are in the midst of it, it just doesn't seem that way sometimes. The right path begins to take more of the shape of a rickety old rope bridge over a raging river with sharp rocks.
You even start thinking of your possible future time-line. You take a glance down the way, and it seems pretty bleak. Trials and difficulties galore, if you choose the right path. Sometimes we even dredge up, from our memory, certain stories of what has happened to other people. Testimonials that our brain uses to try to convince ourselves that the wrong way is the easier way... the only way to happiness.
We pull back momentarily, reminding ourselves, "God's way is better... God's way is better... " But the words seem empty, without power.
Have we found an exception?!? Is this the one instance that God's way isn't better? Is God actually saying to us, "Oops, I messed up on that one. You better do the wrong thing to get out of it... "
As you read this you might already be anticipating the warmth and encouragement that I am going to type, to press you on to do the right thing. You might even be expecting me to start quoting verses about the blessings and the joy that await you if you do the right thing.
I believe firmly that those verses are there. I believe that they are true and can fill you with hope!
But that is not what I am going to do today.
A few thousand years ago there were three young men who were facing a very difficult situation. They were going to be thrown into a huge furnace if they did not obey the king of that land. Normally these men were very obedient. They were known for their service and loyalty to the king. But this time the king was commanding them to bow down and worship an idol. To pay their allegience to one who was not the true God. They refused.
When the king confronted them, they replied like this:
"Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn't, it wouldn't make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn't serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up."
Most of us know the rest of the story. Many of us have known this story since we were small children. If you would like to read the whole thing, you can find it here.
For those of us who know the story, we know that they are miraculously saved. We know that the king's heart is changed, and we know that the three young men are promoted in the end.
But when they made their statement to the king... when they decided where they would take a stand, they did not know how it would all turn out. They even say that to the king, "God can save us... but even if he doesn't, it wouldn't make a bit of difference."
Where do you stand?
"There will be two kinds of people in the end: Those that will say to God 'Thy will be done' and those to whom God will say 'Thy will be done.'"
-- C.S. Lewis