This post was originally published in 2012. However, since our Lenten service last night focused on Abraham sacrificing his son and the corresponding sacrificial Lamb of God in the New Testament, I thought it was appropriate to post it again…
Blessings to you this Lenten season,
After all this, God tested Abraham. God said, “Abraham!”
“Yes?” answered Abraham. “I’m listening.”
He said, “Take your dear son Isaac whom you love and go to the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I’ll point out to you.” –Genesis 22:1-2 (The Message)
Don’t you wonder sometimes what went through Abraham’s mind from the moment he first heard God make this command until the time he followed through in obedience? We read it and think, “Abraham knew God. He was a giant of the faith. He didn’t struggle. He just did what God told him to do.” But as I ponder this passage and think of the incredibly difficult decision I am faced with in my life right now, I can’t help but wonder, “What really happened in that white space between the end of verse 2 and the beginning of verse 3?” It’s the instructions written in invisible ink in that white space I could use right about now. The ones that tell me how to get from point A (listening) to point B (obedience).
I have found over the past few years (more than a few actually), that I have become quite adept at second guessing what I think God may be telling me. I can believe I hear very clearly God telling me one thing; but over the course of a few days, I have completely tied myself in knots wondering if I heard right. And then begins the tug of war… “Did God really tell me that, or is that the devil trying to trip me up? I am certain God told me that, but it just doesn’t make any sense. I could see how God could use that (and work good from it), but it doesn’t seem like it goes according to what I know from His Word. No, that CAN’T be God.” Then I find myself right back at the starting point, continuing to stay stuck in a rut of indecision, paralyzed by insecurity and doubt.
Isn’t it interesting how God gave Abraham three days to think about things after he decided to obey God. Three long days to travel to Moriah. Three excruciating days to torment himself with thoughts of what God was telling him to do. Unlike Peter, who took his eyes off Jesus and began to quickly sink amidst the crashing waves on the Sea of Galilee, Abraham continued steadfast on the path God was calling him to follow. He did not waiver in his obedience. He remained calm amidst the storm of his emotions. He kept his [spiritual] eyes on God and kept his [spiritual] ears tuned to the radio frequency of God’s voice. If we did the same, how much different would our lives be?
I often think of the analogy of the clenched fist. If we are desperately holding onto something we can’t bear to part with, how can we expect God to bless us with anything? Our hand will be too tightly clenched to receive the blessing. In order to receive something, we have to let go… either by holding out our hands, open, with palms up, or by reaching out with an open hand to grasp onto the hand of God and go with Him to the place He can’t wait to show us. Then, and only then, can God give us something that we may find is a much greater joy than we could ever have imagined.
I’m going to challenge you in something. Over the next month, pay close attention to what God is telling you. Listen to the message He puts deep within your heart. Pray about it, asking God to reveal His truth regarding the particulars of whatever it is He is telling you. Now here’s the kicker… FOLLOW THROUGH on what He is telling you. I’d love to hear how He has blessed you through your obedience.
Walking in faith,
Dear LORD… just as You blessed Abraham through his acts of obedience, we pray that You would bless us. May we be willing to unclench our fists and let go of those things that are hindering us from receiving the best that You want to give us. Through this letting-go process, we pray that You would use our obedience to bless others as well; and through it all, may You be glorified. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.