Don’t you love the days when you find the promise God gave you actually is true? You know, a passage like, “I am with you” and you knew God was with you today. Or when the Proverbs talk about walking in fear of the Lord, and you find yourself in His favor because you fear Him. Maybe it’s when the situation at hand should wreck you completely, and you’re living out Isaiah 54:10, “Though the mountains be shaken, and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love will not be shaken, nor my covenant of peace be removed” says the Lord who has compassion on you.
Those times are great when you’re in the midst of a storm, yet you find the peace of God to be beyond what you could imagine.
Then, there is another side of the Lord that I love, yet sometimes I don’t like very much. I love it because God stretches me. I don’t like it because God stretches me. When you’re being stretched, it isn’t pleasant. When gold is purified, it must stand in the fire. When the blade is sharpened, something must be removed that was there before. The shape itself changes.
God blessed Abraham like crazy. Old man Abraham and old woman Sarah got pregnant at a crazy old age, (As in you’re great-grandparents old age. I know. We won’t hang on this point any longer) and had a son who they named Isaac.
As Isaac grew older, God wanted to test something one day. “Abraham, do you love the Blesser (me) or the blessing (your son) more.”
So God told Abraham to go kill his son. Abraham and Isaac climbed a mountain with their servants. Then they separated themselves from the servants. They walked up a hill together at that point, and then Abraham “bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.” Genesis 22:9
Do you get that? He bound his son first. Then he laid them on the altar, on top of the wood.
Abraham binds him. To kill him. So he can sacrifice him. It’s crazy. You would think that just killing him would be enough, but apparently Abraham is going all the way in his obedience to God.
At the last second, just as Abraham grabs the knife, God says, “Do not lay a hand on the boy. Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
So there’s this moment of catharsis, Isaac realizes that his dad isn’t actually crazy, because God affirms his obedience, and then they get to sacrifice a ram that God provides.
Let’s go back over this for a moment. Abraham and company travelled for three days under God’s command to sacrifice his son. Abraham left his servants behind. Abraham and his son Isaac had a few final moments, right before the knife was coming down on Isaac.
Don’t tell me Abraham didn’t have some knots in his stomach. You can’t convince me he didn’t sweat this one out. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was getting hysterical as he obeyed God’s command. The key is that Abraham did what God told him to do. Yes, Abraham believed he would kill his own son in the process. It didn’t make sense to him. In this though, Abraham still has faith in God. When Isaac asked where the sacrifice was, Abraham simply said, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” He had faith that God was going to take care of this, even if the way God took care of it was in the worst way possible, taking his own son. This took complete faith.
C.S. Lewis said, “Courage is every virtue at it’s testing point.” Sacrificial faith requires courage. When you reach the point of feeling like you will crumble inside, you need courageous faith. When you feel like you have reached the point of all you can handle, you need courageous faith. Palms sweaty, stomach in knots, unsure of the outcome. This takes courageous faith.
All those fears invite us to step into faith like never before. As we do we find our first love all over again. All this stretches us, changes us, and shapes us to be who God created us to be.