“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
I ran across this scripture in a status update recently and, at the thought of sacrifice, my mind pretty quickly turned to the story of Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice his son at God’s command.
“He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”
This story has always been amazing to me and the thoughts surrounding what this really means have been swirling around in my head for days. I’m still not sure that I get all of it – in fact, I’m confident I don’t – but I’ll share the little nuggets that are intriguing me at the moment.
I keep thinking how incredibly hard it is to give up something you love – especially when you believe that that something is part of a promise God has made to you. To think of everything Abraham had been through before finally getting the son God had told him he’d have, and then, right when he had the fruit of God’s promise in hand, God tells him to sacrifice that precious gift he loved so much. How did he do that? What was he thinking and feeling as he made the trek up that mountain?
Did Abraham question God at all about His request? The Bible doesn’t say anything about him having any hesitancy. And the more I think about it, I think that is probably very telling; I think maybe God is making a point of the extent to which Abraham really trusted Him.
Abraham told his servant that he would be back with Isaac. Was this a statement of faith or was it to keep the servant or Isaac from being alarmed? I don’t know that we’ll ever really know.
As I’ve prayed about all of this, I keep thinking about where Abraham’s focus must have been; what he put his hope in that enabled him to have that level of obedience. I think the difference must have been that his focus wasn’t on the promise, but on the One who made the promise. I have to admit, I’m so in awe of that. Once God speaks a promise, it’s so easy to think that it’s ok to put your hope in that promise. After all, it’s from God. But if that was Abraham’s perspective, would he have been able to offer it up so easily?
I feel like God is trying to make the point to me that even if He’s said something is going to happen, that trusting Him has to be outside of that thing. Even something given by God can become an idol. It doesn’t make the thing bad or indicate that it’s not of/from God. But as M. Denis de Rougemont wrote and C.S. Lewis quoted in the The Four Loves, “love ceases to be a demon only when he ceases to be a god.” I think this is one more place that God is reminding me that He is a jealous God.
I feel like I could go on and on as I track this maze of thoughts in my head. And I’m sure future posts will do just that. But for now I’ll leave it as this: I’m praying that somehow God continues to help me learn how to trust Him – fully. When things are hard and when things are easy. That every day is another step along the journey and that each of those steps finds me closer to the person He’s calling, teaching, and helping me to be.