Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” -Mark 8:34-38 (NIV)

Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. -Daniel 3:26-27 (NIV)

There’s a storm coming.

And you may even be in a storm now, but see a larger one looming ahead.

You will have to make some difficult choices when you walk with God. Some choices will be at forks in the road. Some choices could leave friends and family behind. Some could leave you exposed to extreme heat and fire.

But as long as you choose the path that follows God’s will, it doesn’t matter what anyone in the world thinks. People may tell you you’re wrong or misguided. People may tell you that you’re not following God. But there is only one voice you must be sure you’re hearing, especially at those moments: God’s voice.

When it is hardest to pray, pray your hardest. You can even make your own silence, even in a busy place. Wherever I need it, I can go to and turn on white or brown noise to make a bubble of silence even in a sea of noise. (They have an app, too.)

Another page from my own unfolding testimony: I come from a family of mostly nonbelievers, and a mother who routinely bashes Christians as hypocrites. The other day, she said to me that she knew I only was a Christian in name to get married, but that I really wasn’t one. That day, I didn’t say anything. It wasn’t out of shame, but it wasn’t right to be silent about it.

So I am letting the woman who gave birth to me raised me know that I am indeed a true follower of Christ. And I will tell her how that it was Christ who awakened me, and gave me joy where I never had it, and is carrying me through trials that would otherwise kill me. I don’t know what will happen when I tell her, but I know my story must be told…and that she will see over time the change He has made in me and my life. And maybe, just maybe, she will choose to follow Him as well.

On another front, in the thick of the rain of fire that is bombarding me in the desolate valley, I can see the choices before me: to move forward and keep weathering the firestorm with God’s guidance, knowing the storm will pass as I climb the mountain; or, make an about face to go back to false blue skies built on denial, distortion, and unresolved pain.

The cross is before me, and the world is behind me. There is only ever one way: toward the cross. As I slog through the firestorm and rocky terrain, with condemnation and doubt on all sides trying to break me, there is a protective layer of His truth and armor that keeps me upright.

Move slowly and surely, not hastily or reactively to the heat around you. (It’s very easy to do.) Keep your eyes fixed on Him. Call Jesus’ name every chance you have. Make your silent bubble to talk to God, and to hear from Him for guidance. Give Him your burdens and heart’s desires. Then, walk with confidence that you are on the only correct path: His path. And you will make it, and the sun will shine like you’ve never seen it before once you reach the summit. God will see to that.

Today’s soundtrack

Third Day’s “Call My Name” is Jesus telling us to call His name any time, anywhere, and He is with us.