“Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.” (Dan. 3:6)

I REMEMBER A BILLBOARD I used to pass on my morning commute. It promoted the services of a local spa and featured the image of a smiling, attractive young woman. It always made me chuckle because the exact same image was on another billboard across town, advertising an establishment whose services would make the model blush, had she known. That’s the danger in posing for stock photography: you can’t control where your face might appear.

The tradesmen operating Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace may be similarly appalled at the king’s decree. Their furnace was designed to fire bricks or smelt ore, not to incinerate disobedient subjects. Yet they were bound to a tyrant who conscripted an ordinary tool of industry and made it an instrument of terror instead.

If we’re honest, we’ll admit that we try doing the same thing with God. We prefer a “stock” deity who, like that unfortunate billboard model, can be made to serve our purposes rather than the other way around. But such a god isn’t worthy of worship. Like Nebuchadnezzar’s statue, the idol demands allegiance but is powerless to save.

Our God is anything but impotent. Though He’s a jealous God, He’s not a tyrant. Making us custodians of His image, He gently summons us along the upward way toward His perfection. As we yield to His service, He reworks our selfish desires into something truly beautiful.

Repent of any way you’ve tried to make God serve your agenda.

Johnathan Kana lives with his wife and two children in rural central Texas. When he’s not writing, he enjoys playing piano and composing music.

© 2017 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.