The story of Abraham being asked to offer up his son Isaac never ceases to move me. Abraham's immediate obedience, his willingness to put God first over something and someone he'd waited his whole life for. It's a huge 'behind the scenes' story where there is so much left unsaid, but you can imagine.........! Every time I read it something new stands out. This morning it was the words, "God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." (Gen. 22:8) I read it several times.
I have always thought of this as a distraction for Isaac. "Don't worry son, we'll pick up a lamb along the way," so Isaac didn't fret or figure out what was actually going on. But what if it was spurred on by a deep understanding that God somehow WOULD provide, because of the promise He had already made; that Isaac would be the father of countless many? That deep inside he just KNEW.
Abraham certainly didn't understand why, he didn't know how the day would turn out, but by that point in his life he had an unshakable faith in WHO God was, what He was capable of, and in the fact that even at the deepest point of testing, that God's provision can unquestionably be trusted. Even if it looks like we're being asked to give up something that's been our lifelong dream.
|Photo by Karen Eland|
Trials, triumphs, victory, despair: things that shape us and build the foundations of who we are. And unfortunately you can't have the good without the difficult.
Psalm 11:3 says, "if the foundation is destroyed, what can the righteous do?" Trials and things that we don't understand will come. Our foundations will be rocked, they will need to resist erosion, they will be tested. The same psalm goes on to say, "The Lord tests the righteous," and "The upright shall behold his face." (vs. 5,7) Our foundation is Him. Nothing else will stand. God, in His mercy, tests those foundations for our sake, so our foundations will be firm and ultimately we will be ready to 'behold' him face to face.
I want to get to the point where my FIRST response is trust. Where I don't have to work through thoughts and emotions of, "But God?" but I doubt if I ever totally will. And maybe that's part of the plan. If we didn't have the doubt, then we wouldn't have the victory. I very much think that despite the example of faith that we see in Abraham in this story, that he had a rough night beforehand.
But far better the continued struggle than this:
"You will indeed hear but never understand
and you will indeed see but never perceive.
For this people's heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them."
I hear God's anguish in the 'lest.' If only, my child. If only, I would heal you. If only.
We will be tested, but it's for our benefit. There will be trials, temptations, even deaths of our dreams; but if not we would never know that there is a 'ram', a provision, a way of escape, a future plan. We would never truly see Him, hear Him, understand Him, know that the victory is really His, see His face and receive the healing.
And trust, like Abraham, that no matter how things may look at the moment, that God will provide.