"Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?"
This is King Nebuchadnezzar speaking to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. And in this verse he's angry, and when he asks "who is that God that shall deliver you" he just means to say... I have the power to destroy you, so why would you choose to die by defying me? Luckily, later he has a change of heart when his question is answered, and he finds out what God will deliver them. I think that, like Nebuchadnezzar, we get kind of full of ourselves sometimes and think that we're more powerful than God. Or smarter than him, or whatever it is. We think that our ideas or our way of living our lives is better than his ideas or the way that he asks us to live. We think that there are times when it is okay to ignore what God says, or that he loves us enough to ignore the things that we are doing that are bad... so much justification and hedging. So much effort and blustering... and really, what we are saying is exactly what the king said. "Who is that God..." that will do anything to stop us? So, here's the deal. He won't stop us. Life isn't for the purpose of pleasing God, and he isn't going to use us like puppets and stand us up to bow to him, although I'm sure he could. Life is a blessing granted to *us* so that we have a chance to become more than we are... to grow and learn and find happiness. Happiness can't be forced. He will remind us, and talk to us, and help us. But we have to see it, and we have to want to change before he will help us do so... he's really big into that free agency stuff. :) Today, let's have the same change of heart that Nebuchadnezzar had... let's realize that God's way isn't something we want to fight against, but something that is there to save us. If we take God's hand, he will help us survive the fiery furnaces of our lives, and come out the other end better and happier.