Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sacrificing our “Isaac’s”

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God -- this is your spiritual act of worship."
Romans 12:1

Have you reached a point in your walk with the Lord that you honestly can say that all that you are and all that you have belongs to Him? Have you, like me, tried giving your whole life completely to God, but know deep inside there is still something you are holding back? Are you afraid that He may require something of you that you really don't want to do or something you don't want to give up? It could be a career, your family, a relationship, your college plans, a ministry, or some kind of provision that makes you feel more secure about the future.

I dedicated my children to God the moment they were born and I was content in that dedication until two of them were in the military and we faced the possibility of them being deployed to fight in a war. I told myself they were God’s, but then found myself pleading for Him not to test my faith by taking them to war.

In my struggle God brought to mind the story of Abraham and Isaac from the book of Genesis. God took Abraham from his home and promised to make of him a mighty nation. Abraham followed God and time passed and his wife was barren. When they were in their 90's God came to Abraham and renewed his promise of children. In the face of barren, aged bodies they miraculously bore a son whom they dearly loved. When Isaac was a young man, God asked Abraham to offer him as a sacrifice. When I think of all that Isaac represented to Abraham, I think I get a clearer picture of what God was asking him to do. Isaac was the son they had desperately desired during many painful years of infertility. He was also the son who fulfilled God's promise to Abraham. That means Isaac was the proof of God's favor towards Abraham. When I think of sacrificing any of my children, my heart hurts. Even though they are a tremendous blessing, they are not the foundation of God’s plan as Isaac was. So, it had to be a very confusing request and emotionally difficult for Abraham to obey.

However, Scripture indicates Abraham immediately obeyed. It would make me feel better if there were at least one objection from Abraham recorded. Maybe he did it in his heart or maybe he had resolved earlier in his life to fully trust God. We do know Abraham knew the promise of being a father to many nations was still in effect and had been told by God that Isaac was the one to fulfill that promise. He also seemed to trust that God's ways are not our ways and that He can operate outside the norm to achieve His greatest purposes.

Had Abraham not bound Isaac and placed him on the altar, he would not have seen God's provision. He would not have had the prophetic picture of God's provision of a sacrificial lamb. He would have not had the intimacy with God that came from facing one of his biggest fears–that of losing the child of his old age. It had to hurt Abraham to think of sacrificing Isaac, yet it was in the giving of his son that God provided a substitute sacrificial lamb. I wonder what made it possible for Abraham to let go of the son he had longed for most of his life. I believe it was because Abraham believed God is good and that He was provider of all that Abraham needed in his life. He obviously chose to trust God to be true to the character reflected by His names--loving, faithful, just, and holy. I am betting Abraham practiced obeying God in the small stuff so when the big stuff came it was more natural to obey. 

When my husband and I were moving away from Mississippi I did not want to leave. I loved our church and looking back, it was an "Isaac" to me. I talked to our pastor about the move and he told me he wished we could stay. Then he said something, I will never forget, "You have grown so much here and I don't know why God would have you move. However, I do know God is love and God is good. He will bless you through the move." What he said was true. I cannot tell you how many people and blessings I would have missed had we not moved. I have also learned many lessons and grown in intimacy with God through the circumstances and "moves" I have encountered since. I did not do it as graciously as Abraham--I left crying outwardly while kicking and screaming inwardly. I adjusted slowly and painfully, but God was faithful in His blessings and work in my life.

Is there an "Isaac" in your life to which you are clinging? Are you afraid to trust God with it? Could you give Him what you cherish most? God shared His Son with you so why would you withhold anything from Him? God is sovereign and deals with us individually so He may choose to return your "Isaac" to you or not–can you praise Him no matter what He does? Can you trust God's character with what you hold dearest in your heart? Those are the questions I continually have to ask myself. Will you lay your "Isaac" at His feet--for it is in that sacrifice of our Isaacs that we receive God's best.

Prayer: Father, your sovereignty is a scary in that we are not in control. Help each of us lay all that we have and all that we are at your feet. When we cling to anything we lose focus of who you are and become more fearful and selfish. Please help us to let go and rest in your perfect love and infallible character. Our faith isn't faith until it is tested. Give us courage to remain true to you in every circumstance. We love you. Amen.

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!