My mind went again – only somewhat unwillingly – to all that I’ve lost (in full or in part) over recent years and things that I miss since my health has been on this continual, gradual decline of a roller coaster. How long has it been since I’ve mimed? Or danced? Or even signed? How long since my tea attended? Even longer since my last tea hosted… I can’t remember the last time I worked on my book. My weeks to teach have been more miss than hit. I rarely go out, rarely socialize and have missed too many Sundays at church to count…
But a new train of thought stopped me in my tracks:
“What a minute. What about all those times you read scripture, sang songs or prayed prayers of sacrifice and surrendering? How many times have you told God He could have it all? Did you mean those?”
“Of course I meant those! Every time I spoke or sang those words. I’ve been paying attention for years now to what I sing and pray. I didn’t do it blindly. I meant it.”
“But I thought the mime thing… and then the tea thing… and some of these other things were things God gave to me. Things God wanted me to do! Directions God wanted me to go! Why would He put a passion or a dream or a goal or a direction into my heart and mind and then take it away? Or ask me to sacrifice or surrender it?
“You mean like God fulfilled a promise (and really the seed of a future promise) to Abraham by giving him Isaac and then asked him to give Isaac up?”
That hit me hard.
And the thing is, I don’t think I should count on a ram in the bush. I don’t think I should surrender or sacrifice these things expecting to get them back. For that would only be a nominal surrender. Not a true sacrifice.
I don’t think the scripture story is meant to satiate us that if we sacrifice to God what He gave to us, that we’ll always get it back or get it back just as it was. Though I’ve heard folks talk that way.
It’s also really popular to bring up how Abraham tells his servants that he and Isaac will go up the mountain and sacrifice and then “we” will come back to you.
We point to that to show his faith in God.
And Abraham really did have faith in God. His words and actions show his trust and obedience to the One whom was his God and Lord.
The problem is that we know the story. It’s easy for us to read into it that Abraham trusted God to somehow save or bring back Isaac – his exact 12-year-old Isaac.
But Abraham didn’t know the story.
And he didn’t know about the plagues on Egypt that displayed God’s mighty power. He didn’t know about the parting of the waters, food in the wilderness, water from rocks, cloud by day, fire by night, sun standing still, crashing Jericho walls, axeheads floating, oil and fishes and loaves multiplying, blind seeing, deaf hearing, lame walking, lepers being cleansed and the dead being raised…
That would all happen generations and centuries after this faith-father was long gone.
As far as I can tell, the only thing Abraham knew and had experienced was God’s faithfulness thus far.
In keeping him safe.
In bringing him to a land that wasn’t even his yet.
In fulfilling a promise of a son.
He had tasted God’s faithfulness.
Even when he was faulty.
And now he was asked to obey.
He had a choice.
He could choose to sacrifice or to refuse hold tightly.
His display of faith shows us that he chose obedience.
And that he fully trusted God.
He trusted that God was faithful and would somehow keep and fulfill His promise even if his obedience ended the life of his promised son.
Abraham didn’t know the end of his story.
I don’t know the end of my story.
It would be presumptuous of me assume that my stated willingness to surrender what God has given to me is somehow a magical key to unlock the door, removing all obstacles and bringing that idea, dream or passion to completion.
And it would be half-hearted, half-faced of me to say I will sacrifice what has been asked of me while actually believing I don’t actually need to relinquish it because I’m fully expecting to get it back.
I have seen the faithfulness of God.
In the history of Israel.
In the life and death of Jesus.
In the lives of countless believers who’ve come before me.
In the lives of those around me.
In my own life.
I can trust the Faithful One.
And I want to obey.
Even when asked to “Let it go.”