Sometimes God asks us to do incredibly hard things.
When I read the story of Abraham and Isaac found in Genesis 22, I am amazed at the depth of faith displayed by Abraham. It’s hard to understand why a loving God would ask someone to sacrifice their son. And not just any son, one they had to wait until they were 100 years old to receive!
Here’s how the story goes:
“Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.’”
Genesis 22:2 (NIV)
This command from God seems to go totally against all that God had promised Abraham. God told him that he would father a great nation, that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky; but how could that ever happen if his one and only heir was gone? Besides losing his precious son, it would also be the end of this incredible promise, this dream.
Yet despite all of that, pay careful attention to how Abraham responds:
“Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac.”
Genesis 22:3 (NIV)
Notice Abraham didn’t hesitate; the text tells us he got up early and did exactly what God told him to do. Abraham responded in one of the greatest acts of obedience in recorded history. He isn’t called the father of our faith for no reason!
The story ends in a dramatic way as right at the last possible second, God stops him from killing Isaac and provides a ram for the sacrifice. God didn’t want Isaac to be killed, but God did want Abraham to sacrifice Isaac in his heart. God demands that we have no idols, and God needed to know that Abraham loved him more than he loved his son. This was a test of monumental proportions.
I can’t imagine my own response to such a request. Yet I do know this, anything in our lives can become our Isaac. ANYTHING! Simply put, an idol is anything that becomes too important, something that we love more than our relationship with God, including:
These last two years have been filled with invaluable lessons on my journey of faith; but the hardest lesson I have been walking through is God revealing the idols in my life, “good” things that I deeply love…sometimes more than Him!
The idol God has asked me personally to lay on the altar is the very thing I feel called to do, the purpose I wrote about in my blog last month…music. You see, music had become too important to me. My success or failure in music and ministry was the gauge of my self-worth and confidence, not the love of my Heavenly Father. Even though I was writing and singing Christian songs that glorify Him, which is a good thing, and following my purpose, my heart was in the wrong place.
And bottom line, nothing, absolutely nothing, can come before my love for Him.
Idols look different in this day and age, we don’t usually have golden calves in our homes; but the struggle is real, and it’s lifelong. Your idol may be different than mine, and chances are your idol will change throughout the years, just like I know mine has; but keeping God first and letting go of those things we cherish is a real battle.
Yet when we look at this story and our own stories through eyes of faith, we see the kindness of God. He knows that the only place we will experience true freedom is the place of total and complete surrender. When we can lay our idols on the altar as we faithfully walk in obedience, trusting that His plans for us are good, we are exactly where He can do the most in and through us. We are in the perfect position to receive His blessings.
When I stand before God and say, “I give this song to you…this problem to you…this situation to you…this person to you in complete surrender because I want you first,” that’s where I find true freedom.
So what is your Isaac? What are you placing first in your life?
I urge you to take a moment and allow God to search your heart. Open your spiritual eyes and let Him reveal what has already become or is on its way to becoming an idol in your life.
And then take the next important step of laying it on the altar!
Hugs and love,