"[God] said, 'Take your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.'" (Genesis 22:2, NASB)
When someone says the word SACRIFICE, if I'm honest, I'd have to say my mind most naturally goes to food. I'm not sure why my maternal family is like this, but we're always thinking about food. We are not apt to skip meals. We’ve barely pushed away from the table before we are thinking about the next meal. We are not likely to let "not being hungry" get in the way of enjoying some delightful treat. Countless times I've told my husband, "It's not about hunger!"
In Gen. 22:2 God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son. Not just his son, his ONLY son. I read this passage during a time of fasting. It was in between the euphoric, idealistic beginning of the fast ("This is gonna be great, I'm really gonna get close to God!") and the more settled later phases ("Discipline is hard work, but worthwhile!"). It was in the "Oh-my-gosh-I-really-hate-fasting" stage when I read Abraham's story. My stomach was growling insistently.
Suddenly God brought me up short. OK, so I was hungry. It was almost as if God said, "Is that all you’ve got? Is that the best sacrifice you can bring to the table?" It was then that I allowed myself to really FEEL the story of Abraham and Isaac. I imagined Abraham’s sleepless torment after God spoke to him. I imagined him trudging through the desert, gripping the handle of the coal kettle until his knuckles turned white. I imagined him lying awake under the desert sky, alternately groaning or screaming in his spirit. I wondered what Isaac felt in that pivotal moment when his father started tying him up with the cords. I wondered if he kicked and screamed when his father lifted him, instead of an animal, onto the altar.
As strong emotions flooded through me, I heard God whisper, "THIS is what I bring to the table." Suddenly my growling stomach didn’t matter so much. My sacrifice to come close to God was so minute and pitiful compared to the sacrifice He gave to come close to me. I was moved to tears to consider the Fatherly heart of God being ripped apart as His only son was lifted to the altar…and not removed. How amazing the love of the Father, how amazing the love of the Son for us!
Whenever I think that the sacrifice God is asking me to offer in any given moment is just too hard, I remember one of my favorite quotes from Thomas Kelly: "He asks all, but He gives all." Nothing I can be asked to give is bigger than what He gave for me—He gave all!
Warmly in Christ,
"Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship." (Romans 12:1, NASB)
What sacrifice(s) have you made for God? Was it worth the cost or do you have regrets? Has God provided "a ram" for you or have you had to go through with the sacrifice?
Is there a sacrifice that you’re struggling with now? What is keeping you from offering yourself fully to God, no holds barred?