Looking Through the Rearview Mirror

I was flipping through the topic cards of a new trivia game when an idea splashed into my mind: what if my brothers and sisters and I were to use these as writing prompts for a family memoir? That could be a lot of fun and elicit some great memories. Our parents, a sister, and a brother had already passed away, and the remaining siblings lived in various places around the country. Maybe doing a project like this could bring a sense of togetherness and closeness. The concept was to send out one writing prompt per week via email, and then the siblings would write their memories and send them to me.

We started learning about one another and seeing each other in a whole new light, and the conversations that occurred every week became highly therapeutic for us. We accepted one another, and in the process, learned to love each other more deeply than any of us had ever experienced in our family.

Each week, we selected a new writing prompt. Everyone had a week to write up a memory or a personal experience that related in some way to the topic. And then we sent the stories to everyone. My original intent was not to share the stories with everyone until the end of the year. But the group decision to share with everyone right from the start is what made this endeavor the overwhelming success that it turned into. We bonded. We laughed. We cried. We identified with one another. We encouraged each other. We felt each other’s pain, sorrow, stress, and heartbreak. And we celebrated each other’s successes and victories. In essence, we created a safe environment and showed each other the beauty and wholeness of being vulnerable and trusting in an accepting relationship.

The results of this endeavor were fantastic. For the first time in our lives, we’re not divided into the upper half and the lower half. There’s no superiority or inferiority. We all have equal standing in this loving family. And it feels good. We created a priceless collection of family history that our grandkids and great grandkids might otherwise have never known. More importantly, we have grown and deepened as individuals and as a family.

Whether you are a family member, a distant relative, a neighbor, friend, or even a complete stranger, we invite you to join us on this journey as we share our lives with you. We hope you enjoy the stories. Welcome to the family.

The book may be purchased at https://paullinzey.com/books/

or from Amazon.

The Risk of Faith

Daniel was thrown into a lion’s den because he prayed three times a day to his God. But the Lord protected him, and the ferocious beasts lay down and purred.

Not far from there, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were thrown into a blazing fire because they refused to bow down and worship a golden statue. Instead, they declared,

“Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18 NKJV)

Their faith didn’t depend on whether they escaped. They were fully prepared to risk everything, which meant they didn’t serve the Lord only during the good times. They didn’t trust God only to get their way. There was nothing selfish about their prayer, their life, or their religion. Their faith in God was genuine, even when it resulted in persecution. Even when it meant risking their lives. Death was certain, and they knew it—unless God did a miracle. Either way, they were determined to be faithful.

The fire was so hot that the soldiers escorting them to the flames died on the spot. But for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, not a hair on their head or their arms was singed, and not a thread of their clothing burned. They never even felt the heat. It was like they were taking a walk in the park on a cool, breezy day.

When the smoke cleared, King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace, and to his amazement, there was a fourth man in the flames with them. The king couldn’t believe his eyes. Daniel 3:25 reports Nebuchadnezzar’s amazement.

“Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:25 NIV)

Daniel understood the dangers of breaking the law and praying to his God. Hungry lions can easily tear a man apart. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego knew the risks when they decided not to bow to the king’s statue.

However, God intervened, and Daniel survived to tell the King once more about the goodness and reality of the true God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, encountered the Lord right there in the middle of the blazing heat.

The eleventh chapter of Hebrews makes it clear that not everyone who takes the risk of faith will escape pain or death. I would encourage you to read the entire chapter, but verses 32–38 show how the situations turned out for some of God’s people. And verse 39 adds,

“These were all commended for their faith.” (Hebrews 11:39 NIV)

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ always involves risk. Some will face ridicule. Others might lose their jobs. Some are abandoned by their family. Others experience physical torture. Some will survive. Others may die. What is God asking you to risk?

The bottom line is that your faith will cost you something. God is calling you to accept the challenge, count the cost, and take the risk.

Christians in many places around the world are experiencing persecution at this moment. In the same way, it might cost you something to follow Jesus. But like those men in the book of Daniel, you can be faithful regardless of the outcome, because the fourth man in the fire is going to be there with you.

This article was featured on CBN.org as the daily devotional reading on October 13, 2021. The link to the article is https://www1.cbn.com/devotions/the-risk-of-faith.