Through the Fire

I set my coffee cup down as I prepare to write tonight and my eyes are drawn to the old CD I am using as a coaster on my desk.  I never noticed the title before.  Today, it feels just about right.  Perhaps I’m just feeling the residual effects of the “short walk” taken with the Lovely Lady earlier this evening.  When she called it that, she didn’t tell me that it would be pure torture for every inch of the abbreviated course.  I have been conscientious of late to keep to an exercise regimen, realizing that what little exertion is expended to reach the television remote from my easy chair could not fairly be called keeping fit.  That said, the pace the lady of the house set as we walked in the brisk evening air was something a bit shy of a trot.  I’m not good at trotting.

But no.  The reason I feel this way has nothing to do with the physical energy expended earlier.  My thoughts probably weren’t much affected by the long nap I took after supper, either.  I tend to enjoy that sort of activity more than I should, although the odd guilty twinge sometimes pokes me after a particularly long one, such as today’s was.  No.  Something else has put me through the wringer on this day.  It happened earlier, while I was at work at the music store, and perhaps actually much before that.  Let me explain.

Today, we made a business decision that appears as if it is likely to cost us a significant amount of income for the store.  It has been coming for a long time, but actually pulling the plug on the part of the business affected was an action which was almost more painful than that walk today.  (Okay.  I promise no more complaining about that–tonight.)  We have been in a business relationship with another company for several months.  The result has been a good source of cash flow for us.  Not a whole lot of profit, but sometimes just the movement of stock is beneficial.  That came to an end today.  The writing has been on the wall for a couple of months, but it became crystal clear today that the decision had to be made.

Without mentioning any details, the company with which we were working is asking us to do some things which we think are unethical.  In two distinct areas, we would have to compromise our principles to continue our relationship.  The feeling that we should end our relationship has grown stronger over the last few weeks, but I was reluctant to take action.  It’s funny how a confluence of events can force a decision, but today, as I was researching how best to withdraw our products from that marketplace, my telephone rang.  I didn’t recognize the number, and was surprised to be speaking with a representative of the company.  He said that he had called just to put the last straw on the proverbial camel’s back.  Well…he didn’t say that, but it was the effect of his call, as he informed me that the company was rejecting my request to make a change which would have rectified at least one of the issues for us.

Immediately after hanging up the phone, I stepped into the furnace.  Without delay, we made the decision to forego the cash income which was virtually a guarantee if we continued the relationship, and took action to end it right then.  It’s not an enjoyable place to be.  We can feel the blast of heat as we walk into the fire.

You do, of course, understand the comparison to the young Hebrew men in the fire?  We learned the story from Daniel as children.  The three men refused to compromise their ethics and chose a nearly certain death rather than deny who they were at the very core of their beings.  Please don’t get the idea that I think our sacrifice will cost us nearly as much.  It’s only money.  We’ll survive.  But, for all that, the fear is still present.

And the faith.  Don’t forget the faith.  We have always attempted to make business and personal decisions based on our firm foundation and what we know that our God demands.  And, like the men in the fire, now we get to leave the consequences to Him.

I know we’re not in this furnace alone.  Well, besides God, who walked around in that one centuries ago with the Hebrews, and does still.  What I mean is; I’m certain that there are many of you who make similar decisions everyday.  You know what is right to do and you do it, regardless of the personal cost.  Your boss insists that you lie for him or her and you refuse, at the potential cost of losing your job or being demoted.  Your friends urge you to go ahead and keep that wallet you found, but you turn it in, knowing you’ll never get a dime for it and you will lose your friends’ esteem, in spite of your honesty.  The lady at the tax agency suggests that you fudge a little on the declaration of what you paid for the new car, but you state the real number, even though it costs you hundreds of dollars.  The list of times you must make choices to act uprightly before God and man is endless, moment by moment, day by day presenting you with opportunities to take the easy (and profitable) way, or to do the hard thing, risking loss.

As I began to write this tonight, the song which was playing on my latest CD was one which really doesn’t have very deep Christian roots, but it speaks to me, nonetheless.  Mr. Phelps is again crooning the words, “Walk on though the wind; Walk on through the rain, though your dreams be tossed and blown.”  I do feel the effects of the storm.  I don’t have to be here, but I choose to be.  I’m glad that you’re here, too.

Oh!  He’s here too.  Did I already say that?  Yeah, like the song says, “You’ll never walk alone.”

Through the fire.  Through the storm.

It’s still a safe place to be.

“When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high, and don’t be afraid of the dark.
At the end of the storm is a golden sky, and the sweet silver song of the lark.”
Walk on through the wind; walk on through the rain, though your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on. Walk on, with hope in your heart, and you’ll never walk alone.
You’ll never walk alone.”
(Oscar Hammerstein II~American lyricist~1895-1960)

“For loving money leads to all kinds of evil, and some men, in their struggle to be rich, have lost their faith and caused themselves untold agonies of mind.”
(I Timothy 6:10~Phillips)

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© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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