pulling off the unfurling fire (a photo poem)

“Mom, the tiger lilies!”

Indeed, they are blooming,

now and finally,

my sweet, sweet son.

fiery red with golden middles

yawning praises towards the evening sun

the tiger lilies bloom

I look closer and see

a lady

taking refuge

in the burning heat of the petals

a lady

hidden

willing and childlike

in the blazing

embrace

risking the scalding

pain of ridicule

from those who would rather find refuge

in the blended greens of

envy

creeping toward

the underbelly of untruth

camouflaged in

the unvariegated lies of

boundary-less

wasteland

BUT

Shadrach

Meshach

and

Abednego

knew

the One who stood with them in the furnace

when the going got tough

and the tough got going

and the three walked alone

into the iron-clad stand

that really mattered

above all

man-made mirages

above all

myopia

knee-deep in ashes

they stood

and One stood with them

in the fire

and saved the three

who waved unsinged

at all the important people

One saved

three unimportant

men

who wavered not

for

Him

“There has never been a god who can pull off a rescue like this.”

Daniel 3:29

*****

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “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.”

Nebuchadnezzar, his face purple with anger, cut off Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace fired up seven times hotter than usual. He ordered some strong men from the army to tie them up, hands and feet, and throw them into the roaring furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, bound hand and foot, fully dressed from head to toe, were pitched into the roaring fire. Because the king was in such a hurry and the furnace was so hot, flames from the furnace killed the men who carried Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to it, while the fire raged around Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Suddenly King Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in alarm and said, “Didn’t we throw three men, bound hand and foot, into the fire?”

“That’s right, O king,” they said.

“But look!” he said. “I see four men, walking around freely in the fire, completely unharmed! And the fourth man looks like a son of the gods!”

Nebuchadnezzar went to the door of the roaring furnace and called in, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the High God, come out here!”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked out of the fire.

All the important people, the government leaders and king’s counselors, gathered around to examine them and discovered that the fire hadn’t so much as touched the three men—not a hair singed, not a scorch mark on their clothes, not even the smell of fire on them!Nebuchadnezzar said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel and rescued his servants who trusted in him! They ignored the king’s orders and laid their bodies on the line rather than serve or worship any god but their own.

“Therefore I issue this decree: Anyone anywhere, of any race, color, or creed, who says anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will be ripped to pieces, limb from limb, and their houses torn down. There has never been a god who can pull off a rescue like this.”

 (excerpts from Daniel 3:16-29, TMV)
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