Monday, February 28, 2011

Father Abraham...

had many sons....and many sons had Father Abraham.  You know the rest, and now I bet you'll be singing it for the rest of the day!  You're welcome!! But seriously, I was reading the story of Abraham and Isaac just a little bit ago.  What a crraaazy story!  The very idea of giving up my son (or daughter), let alone as a burnt sacrifice...I can't get my mind around it.  But some other things jumped out at me too.  First, when God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son, we don't see A arguing or trying to bargain for a different task. (Not that I think it was an easy decision to make; in fact, I'm sure he agonized over what he was about to do.)  Just obedience.  And not eventually, or when he finally resigned himself to obey.  No, the Bible says "early the next morning."  Now, in my opinion, early in the morning is not the time for anything, let alone something so difficult.  But A did not waste any time in obeying the Lord.  So many times I am guilty of delayed obedience.  Which is ironic, because in our house we expect immediate obedience from our children.  But when God tells me to do something I don't want to do, am uncomfortable doing, or am afraid to do, I delay.  I make excuses.  I tell myself "God didn't really tell you to do that.  It was your own idea so you don't really have to."  But my sinful nature is not capable of coming up with such ideas as: send an encouraging card to someone; or make dinner for a friend who is in need; or don't blab to your friends about your frustrations before you talk to God about them.  Clearly these things come from God, who lives inside of me by the Holy Spirit.  But still, my obedience is not always willing or immediate.  But Abraham's was.
So "early the next morning" they set out for the designated mountain.  Today I really took notice of four little words: on the third day.  This was not a quick hike in the backyard.  Abraham, Isaac, the servants, and a donkey walked for three days before they reached the right area.  That's a lot of time to think about what you're about to do.  My brain is in overdrive almost all the time.  Especially on days like today when something is bothering me.  I just play the same thoughts and imaginary conversations over and over and over and get the idea.  I can easily drive myself crazy without some purposeful redirection of my thoughts.  I wonder what Abraham thought about all those hours...well, we know from the book of Hebrews that "Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead."  So I bet he spent a good deal of time thinking about God and His power, His faithfulness to Abraham up to that point, and His promise that through Isaac A would become a great nation.  Oh, that I would spend so much time thinking about God, His power, faithfulness, and promises!!  Not to mention His love, mercy, and presence in my life.  Those are worthy things to dwell upon for countless hours! 
And when it came time to do the deed, Abraham did not shrink back, change his mind, or argue with God.  He tied up his son, placed him on the altar, and lifted a knife to kill his beloved son.  In the same way, when it came time to save our souls, Jesus did not shrink back, change his mind, or argue with God.  (He asked if there could be another way, but knowing that there wasn't...) He placed Himself on the cross and sacrificed Himself on our behalf.  God the Father did not withhold His only Son, but gave Him up for me.  For you.
Thank you, Jesus.

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