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What's Up With Faith?
Hebrews 11:17-19 - NIV
By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.
Abraham was originally known as Abram. He moved out of the land of Ur because of a supernatural call on his life; during his sojourn God made a covenant with him and changed his name to Abraham.
There came a time when God ordered Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac, the one through whom all the peoples of the earth were to be blessed. It is clear from the narrative that the reader has a vital piece of information to which Abraham is not privy: God’s directive was a test of Abraham.
The Plot Thickens
The patriarch’s faith was never more real or vital than when he gathered supplies and saddled up a donkey for what was to be a three day journey to Mount Moriah. He proceeded with determined diligence. What was his mood? What did he tell Isaac? We are given no indication of any conversation between father and son until they arrived at the designated spot and made preparations for a sacrifice.
When Isaac remarked that they had everything required for a burnt offering except a lamb, Abraham spoke with a faith-fused confidence that is stunning: “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”
Abraham built an altar, arranged the wood and then he tied up Isaac and put him atop the killing place. Did Isaac squirm and scream in protest or was he docile and submissive? We have no idea; what we do know is that Abraham took the knife to the grim task, but before he could slit his son’s throat God intervened.
We are told that a voice called out from heaven commanding Abraham to stop: “Do not lay a hand on the boy. Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
It was at that moment Abraham saw a ram had gotten its horns all tangled up in a nearby thicket. He caught hold of the animal and proceeded to do what was necessary to sacrifice it as a burnt offering instead of Isaac. Did father and son celebrate in worship together? Were they in awe of the experience? All we can say for sure is that because of how his faith was answered by Divine activity Abraham named the site, The LORD Will Provide.
Faith is not the absence of doubts or fears; since Abraham was entirely human he likely had a head-full of doubts and fears. After all, God did not explain that it was a test; God did not want Abraham to kill Isaac; he wanted him to sacrifice Isaac in his heart; he wanted Abraham to let go of this child through whom God was going to fulfill his promises to Abraham.
God wanted Abraham to put faith to work so that he could come to comprehend that all the answers to his questions resided in God’s domain. It was a test to deepen Abraham’s capacity for faith and develop his character.
When life is all blue skies faith can be an easy breezy sail on calm waters. In fact in the good times faith can get lazy and atrophy sets in. It is in those difficult and dark places that the muscles of faith are stretched and take on definition.
Life happens with all its cruddy crappola and the sludge threatens to drown us; we feel like faith is a faraway life-preserver that cannot be reached. The accumulated disappointments of life can be weights around our ankles dragging us to the bottom, where in severe distress we collapse to our knees and cry out:
Why God? Why did I lose my job? Why did my friend die? Why is our son in jail? Why am I getting ground up? Why are our finances always circling the bowl? Why is this happening? Why…why…why...why God?
Questions like these do not take God by surprise; even if our emotions run high as we ask them. His comprehension of our humanity is omniscient; his compassion for us has no limitations; he invites us to cast all our cares and burdens on him.
What’s up with faith is this: Faith is not a magic pill that makes the difficult crud of life vanish; faith IS an active choice of learning to coexist with all the questions that life generates. Faith transcends understanding; it certainly did so in Abraham’s life. Abraham did not argue with God; he merely reasoned that God was in control; he simply pressed on by taking God at his word.
Abraham’s story teaches us that God desires dependence on him. God did not explain himself to Abraham and God does not explain himself to us. We are tested; we go through hard stuff and have to make difficult choices and decisions. Like Abraham we will be asked to release what we dearly love into God’s care.
We may be a quivering mass of anxiety but faith gains strength as we hold all the questions before God with a determination that he will provide the answers at exactly the right moment; faith gains strength as we cling to the truth Abraham learned in his time of extreme testing: The LORD Will Provide.
When those times of testing come and come they must, we can grumble or we can trust that God has all the answers necessary as he is at work in our lives.
- Wanted Man
Wanted Man a.k.a. Ken R. Abell, seeks to be a blessing to others. He's a rake, a rambler, and a teller of tales who understands that there is strength in a story well told and well lived. To learn more, inquire or schedule him, visit this web site.
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