and if not…

It’s 3:30AM and I’m wide awake. Thanks, insomnia and anxiety (anxiety over what, you may ask? Once I figure that out, I’ll let you know).
My brain just won’t shut off. Why couldn’t my brain be this wide awake during 8am classes or finals week? Rip off.

Anywho, tonight something’s been on my mind that I figured I should write out; maybe then I’ll finally sleep (or I’ll take my panic attack meds/melatonin and pass out, whichever comes first).

Tonight I watched/listened to a podcast from She Reads Truth— a Christmas party, with Ellie Holcomb (ah-mazing as always) and writer/blogger Angie Smith, talking about advent. It was great, and what I got from it is worth a post of its own; but that’s not what I keep thinking about.

Rachael (one of the founders of SRT) was wearing this ampersand shirt:

if you’re looking for me a Christmas present, this shirt is in the SRT store. #shamelessplug 
Someone during the webcast asked (on the youtube chat box) what the significance of the ampersand was. I (along with a few others) explained that it was based off Daniel 3, the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 
It stuck with me the rest of the night, so I decided to re-read the story to refresh myself.  Apparently I needed it today. 

17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (NIV)

16-18 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.”

Even if not. If He doesn’t deliver us, we still refuse to serve or worship another god. 
Is that a tough pill to swallow for anyone else? 
In the midst of their biggest trial, they remained faithful. They didn’t backtrack when things got tough–they didn’t change their minds and give in to the king just to save themselves. They remained true to the faith that God would rescue and redeem– and even if he chose not to, they still had faith in their God, and refused to support any other idol. I love the message version: it wouldn’t make a bit of difference if God actually followed through with their request: He was still God, and He was worth holding on to. 
At Q Women in November, Annie Downs asked something that resonated with me:

“How do you craft a life that brings God glory and brings you joy, even if God doesn’t answer your deepest prayers?”

Even if He doesn’t answer my deepest prayers the way I want him to; if my hopes and desires for my life aren’t what I planned; and even if I don’t understand what He’s doing or why He’s doing it:
He is still God. 
He is still good. 
He has the plan. I’m simply carrying it out the best way I can. 
Faith is scary sometimes;  I don’t want to put anything into God’s hands I can’t control (control freak probs, I know). So how on earth can I live a life where my plan and His plan might not match up? How can I live a happy, joyous life if it’s not the life I have worked out for me? 
 That scares the hell out of me, if I’m being honest. I don’t know if I could be like Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego: I’d be running for the hills, if it saved me and my way of life. I don’t know if I’d have their, “even if He doesn’t save us, I still believe in Him” kind of faith. At least not everyday; there are some days I totally see myself with that kind of faith, then there are the low days where I just shake my head and scream “REALLY?” at God when things don’t work out. 
I want to have that “and if not” kind of faith: that “even if it isn’t what I want or expect, I still choose to believe” kind of mentality. I really do. He says we only need the faith of a mustard seed, yet somedays I feel like I need faith bigger than Mt. Everest to just survive. Sigh.
The ampersand became more than a punctuation mark to me today: it became a reminder that, even if life goes haywire, He is here, and He is good. 
And if not– even if He doesn’t do things the “my” way– He is still good. So, so good. 
Give Me Faith-Elevation Worship
Ellie Holcomb-Only Hope I’ve Got

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