Last night, my study group and I were discussing the difficulty of deciding, in faith, to willingly sacrifice your own son. “After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”” (Genesis 22:1-2 ESV). Despite this extraordinarily hard request, nothing in the remaining passage indicates the slightest hesitation on the part of Abraham to complete God’s request. Would my faith hold strong against such a request? Would my faith hold strong in the face of a fraction of this request? What a hard situation to take in. Our minds tend to view this story as horrific, a case of child abuse and a barely escaped murder, when the point is to see the beauty of holding nothing back, even what you love most from God, because he is that trustworthy. He withheld nothing back, even what he loved most, for us.
Another story that similarly stirs something within me is the story of Moses in Exodus 2. “The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank.” (Exodus 2:2-3 ESV)
As I read of this Mother risking her family to protect her son for three months and then finding herself out of options, I feel for her. Could you even imagine laying him down in the basket and placing him in the water? Did God promise her a good outcome? Did she have to rely solely on hope and faith? Unlike Abraham, who knew Isaac was the promised son who hadn’t completed his purpose yet, there were no promises, that we are aware of, given to her about Moses. I am not trying to minimize the significance of Abraham’s moment of faith, it was a big ask and a big step in obedience, but at least there was a promise that Abraham could hold onto, God’s blessing was to come through Isaac, so God would ensure Isaac lived. Abraham had experienced the steady and true nature of God’s promises despite impossible circumstances, so he walked without wavering knowing God’s promises never waiver. Don’t you aspire to such unwaivering faith?
I wonder if this mother was left questioning if it was in God’s will to intervene? Did she question whether this child, that she lovingly cared for, would bring glory to God through his death instead of by his deliverence? She had no options left. She had no choice but to let go and discovered that the rescue was in the relinquishment. Maybe this story hits me harder because of my season of life. One child grown, another a couple of years away, and learning to come to terms with that. I so badly want to see my children walk in the truth with a tenacity and a fervor that matches how much God loves them, because they understand the depths to which they are loved. My desire for them would be to avoid the heartaches, brokenness, and walking away from God that I experienced. I am not being asked to sacrifice my child, but I am being asked to let go of the control that I falsely think I yield. I feel as if I am in the position of this mother, having lovingly protected my grown daughter as long as I was able. Now, it’s time to let go and wait on deliverence, praying God draws her from the water and provides her a holy purpose, that she doesn’t succomb to the watery, life-robbing depths of the world. Am I ok with any outcome, that his glory might require hard and painful things? Will I still retain my belief in your goodness, God, if I watch her struggle or pursue the world over you? Do I trust you enough to watch the rescue from the relinquishment in my own life of the lives of my children?
Then, I realize that, like Abraham, we have all received promises from God and they fill my soul with peace and acceptance. God loves all my children more than I do. He is more faithful than I could ever hope to be. God is a relentlessly, pursuing, personal God who calls, heals, and transforms and doesn’t let any of his own be snatched away. You promise that nothing happens that you don’t turn to good for those who love you and are called according to your purpose. Lord, I confess I can’t do it. I can’t make any of my children understand their value in you, or make them love you with all that is in them, no matter how much I wish it to be. I can model your heart, I can testify to your goodness but you, alone, call hearts and bring deliverance. I pray to you today. Prepare me to lay each one down when the time comes and, in faith, wait expectantly on your deliverance. Protect my daughter during her time in the water. Bring her a rescuer to draw her out. Let her see your face. Solidify her purposes and her prosperity in you.