When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." He said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, "The LORD will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided."
And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, "By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice." So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba..."
I've always loved this story, but is especially dear to me these days. Abraham and Hannah, I wish I could meet them for coffee! I feel I understand them somewhat better these days. My circumstances are VASTLY different!! But. I relate. To Hannah, in her barrenness. Like her, there are things I long for that God has not seen fit to answer. Yet I have faith--must have faith--that He will. I must take my burdens, cast them, and leave with joy that He hears me. Every morning. Yet in another circumstance, I am like her in the surrender of the very thing she prayed to receive. There was an area God saw fit to answer. I've been unsure whether it was mine to have or mine to give. His answer has been to give. There is a relief in letting go, but also a pain. A natural ripping of my heart. I doubt Hannah felt nothing as she left her son year after year with Eli. I cling to the verse where God gave Hannah 5 more children. After she gave Him the one, the first and seemingly only one, she had. That resonates with me...my God is generous!!
I relate to Abraham, as I've found myself in the position of offering something sacrificial. I've been here before. Only it is much harder than it has ever been. This is my Isaac. The adjectives "love" and "only" are more profound in v.2 than ever before. I know them well.
Abraham, how I want to learn from you. He was listening for the Lord's voice. He obeyed immediately, without questioning. He had faith that God would restore Isaac to him. God would keep His promise. BUT. Abraham did not see how. Maybe he thought Sarah would get pregnant again, or God would resurrect Issac, or Isaac would not be burned by the fire. Nobody knows what thoughts went through his mind...nobody knows if he had only joy & trust, or if it was a battle. nobody knows if he felt sick or had to shut off his emotions as he took that knife in his hand. Did he weep tears of joy and relief? Did he fall on his face when the angel appeared? we don't know. but we do know he was human. imperfect. made in the image of God, with the frailty of humanity and emotions just like us.
i forget this.
i forget that abraham was not always a man of faith and power. i forget that he felt. he obeyed with trust. but he did not see the ending. indeed, the Lord's generous promise that a descendant of his would bless the entire world? abraham died long before that came true. it was over 400 years later!
Lord, give me this kind of trust.