Another in the Fire
by Dale Reeves
This past weekend in our worship experience at Christ’s Church we sang a worship song that we had not previously sung on Sunday mornings. It is called, “Another in the Fire.” Sunday was an exciting day for several reasons. Due to the temperature outside being a little higher than the previous week, and the fact that more people are starting to get more comfortable with coming back to the church building for in-person worship services, there was a lot of energy in the room. As our worship team led this song on Sunday it was obvious from the reaction of the worshipers that the lyrics immediately resonated with people. As I walked onstage just after this song in preparation for our communion meditation, I could sense the feeling people wanted to keep singing this song a bit more because of how the Holy Spirit was working through the message in the song. If you missed last Sunday’s worship here at church, you can watch it here.
Some of the lyrics go like this:
“There’s a grace when the heart is under fire,
Another way when the walls are closing in.
And when I look at the space between
Where I used to be and this reckoning,
I know I will never be alone.
There was another in the fire
Standing next to me;
There was another in the waters,
Holding back the seas.
And should I ever need reminding
Of how I’ve been set free,
There is a cross that bears the burden,
Where another died for me,
There is another in the fire.”
The Middle of the Fire
This song was written by Joel Houston and Chris Davenport from Hillsong UNITED, and Joel shares the story behind the song here.
Joel reflects, “The beauty of the journey of faith is you walk through something and you go, ‘God, where are you?’ and then you come out on the other side of it. You look back and you see that God was faithful. And, you say, ‘I wish I’d have had more faith back then.’ God doesn’t need much to do what he wants to do. All those experiences build faith in us for the next season because God wants to take us deeper in our trust in him. . . . When people are in the middle of the fire, they have to trust in God completely.”
We never know what kind of personal fires and battles others around us are going through. I was reminded of that again last week as I learned of some struggles several people in our church are presently facing. It is so easy for all of us to get consumed with our own agendas, our own priorities, our own stuff. But we never know what pains might be behind the smiles we see on others’ faces. We as humans have always been good at hiding what’s really going on behind the masks, and with COVID-19, with the wearing of physical masks, it’s gotten even easier for us to hide behind the face coverings we wear.
The Fourth Man
In preparation for last Sunday, I had been listening to this song to familiarize myself with it. As I scrolled through some of the comments from listeners on the YouTube channel, I read these words from someone who had posted just a week ago:
“I just want you to know that song touched my heart today. I was losing my faith, I went back to my old ways of drinking and being angry at the world. I lost my Mom and everything started to crumble. I’m so far behind on my bills and have a gambling problem. I’m living in a homeless program and they want me out next month. I don’t have any money saved. Where I live it’s -14 degrees outside today. But for whatever reason yesterday this song come into my head, because for the first time in my life, I’m not scared of what’s to come. There is another in the fire standing next to me, another standing next to me calming the sea.”
He’s not the only person who has had someone standing next to him in the fire. I love the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that is recorded in the book of Daniel. They were three young followers of God who had uncompromising faith even in the face of death. About 600 years before Jesus Christ was born, these three were living in captivity in Babylon and they defied King Nebuchadnezzar’s order to only bow down to a huge golden image that had been erected. Whoever disobeyed the edict would be thrown into an immense, blazing furnace. Because these three worshipped the only true God and they refused to bow down to the false idol, they were bound and cast into the flames. The fiery blast was so hot that it killed the soldiers who had escorted them.
But as King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace, he was amazed at what he saw. Not only had God protected these three warriors who were sold out to him, the king now saw a fourth man walking in the midst of the fire.
“‘Look!’ Nebuchadnezzar shouted. ‘I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!’” (Daniel 3:25, NLT).
When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego emerged unharmed from the furnace, the Bible says that not even a hair on their heads was singed and there was no smell of smoke on their clothing. There has been much conjecture as to the identity of this fourth man who appeared in the fire with them. God had sent a heavenly bodyguard to come to their aid in their time of need, either an angel or perhaps a manifestation of Christ himself. The three heroes had no assurance they would survive the flames, but they stood firm anyway.
Crying, “Abba Father”
The worship song goes on to say:
“And should I ever need reminding
What power set me free,
There is a grave that holds no body
And now that power lives in me.
I’ll count the joy come every battle
’Cause I know that’s where You’ll be.
I’ll count the joy come every battle
’Cause I know that’s where You’ll be.”
The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 8:14-17, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’ For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.”
That word “Abba” is an Aramaic term for father, a much more intimate name, similar to what we would call “Daddy.” In the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus cried out, “Abba Father,” he revealed a heart full of devotion and submission to the One in whom he fully placed his trust. When we cry, “Abba Father,” it’s evidence of the Spirit of God within us because of Jesus—evidence that we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. The cry of Abba Father is a cry of choice. It’s addressing the Father of creation and choosing to have a close relationship with him. Crying Abba Father is bowing the knee of our heart in devotion and submission to the one with the rightful authority of our souls trusting in his love—just as Jesus did.
When you are going through a very challenging personal battle, remember that you have an Abba Father who desires a very close relationship with you. He promises to never leave you alone. And, because we never know what trials and fires others might be going through, we are called to emulate our Father God’s love, gentleness, and grace to them.