Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called. “Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”
“Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”
The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. “Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.”
So Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together, Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”
“God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.
When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice.
At that moment the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!”
“Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.” -Genesis 22:1-12
I did something really hard yesterday. I put away Gwen's crib, her clothes, everything that she would have used if things had ended differently. I didn't do it because I wanted to; if I'd gone with what I WANTED to do, her crib would still be up in Lily's room and her clothes would still be bursting from the drawers. No, I truly felt like God was asking me to do it. And so I did. And my heart is aching.
As I was putting that stuff away, it occurred to me that God often asks us to do things we don't want to do. Many times, too, he asks us to do things simply to see if we will be obedient to him. I've said yes to several things over the years that never came to fruition and that's okay, because I was still being obedient.
God asked Shaun and I to do two things this past fall. He asked us to love our sweet Gwen's family and to adopt that little girl as our own. And while we willingly accepted both tasks, only one of them actually came to pass here on Earth. While I wholeheartedly embrace Gwen as my second daughter, I don' t get to enjoy her here. That will have to wait until we all meet again in heaven.
And all of that made me think of Abraham and Isaac. As you can read for yourself up above, God asked Abraham to sacrifice his one and only son Isaac in order to test him. But here's the thing about this verse that isn't written here. Not only did Abraham love Isaac more than can possibly be described here, but God had promised to give Abraham descendents through Isaac that outnumbered the stars! Abraham knew all of this and still, he went forward.
When God knew that Abraham would truly follow through, he stopped him. He didn't have him go through with it. Abraham said yes even though he didn't want to!
In a similar way, God asked me to let go of Gwen the rest of the way by putting away her stuff. I am trusting him completely with my daughter who is in his arms even as I write this. It's not easy and it doesn't feel very good right now, but it is the right thing to do.
So here's the challenge for you and me today: What has God been nudging you to do? What are you trying to ignore? Maybe it's time to give that a second look today.