Father, What are We Doing?

I was reading in Genesis 22 the other day. It’s the story about how God had asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on the altar to him. (Very uncharacteristic of God, by the way–he’s not a “human sacrifice” kind of god.) It always was a little unsettling to me that God would even ask such a thing, and now that I have a son, I cringe at the thought. Whenever I’ve heard a pastor talk about this passage, they always praise Abraham’s OBEDIENCE to God through this test God put before him. But, as I looked further, I found out it was more than dutiful obedience at play here. I’ll explain…

Abraham showed that he would do what God told him to, no matter what. But, think about this. All along, God promised Abraham that he would be a father of many nations, and Isaac would be the seed to fulfill that promise. The guy waited until he was over 100 for this miraculous birth to take place because he and his wife were too ancient to have kids, but nothing’s impossible for God, right? Now, he has the son, he has the promise God gave to him for his future–and now God says, “Give it all up to me.” His son, his dream, his promise–everything–rides on this one event.

Picture this scene. Abraham takes young Isaac on a little hike to do the ritual sacrifice like they’ve done before. Isaac asks, “Where’s the lamb, Daddy?” Abraham says, “Oh, God will provide a lamb. Let’s sing some songs. The legs on the donkey go clop clop clop all through the desert...” Then they make it up to the top. Abraham grabs Isaac and ties him to the altar. Isaac’s probably like, “Okay, this isn’t a fun game anymore. In fact, Dad, you’re kinda starting to creep me out. Especially with the knife and all.” Abraham has got to be sweating a little at this point as the knife is about to go in, and finally, an angel says, “Woah. Don’t do it. It’s all good. Here’s your lamb to sacrifice.” They all have a good nervous chuckle, say “that was a close one, huh?” Abraham gives Isaac some fruit snacks and they head home. Good story to tell the grandkids.

How Much Do We Trust God’s Character?

But here’s the thing. What Abraham did was not only out of obedience. It was out of faith, knowing to his toes that God would not let this be the end of the story. He held tight to the promise that was given to him. He knew the character of God and that there would be a better outcome, and it would not include losing his dear son in death. His obedience was a bi-product of his faith in God; his faith was not forged as a result of this test. It already was at play before the test, and his trust in God was only deepened through it. It was his faith (not just obedience) that got him an “A” on this one. Here’s how I know:

1. Abraham told the men travelling with them to hang back while he and Isaac went further on. He said, “We will worship there, and then WE WILL COME RIGHT BACK.” (Not said with a wink, wink, gulp, I hope so.)

2. When Isaac asked where the lamb was, Abraham said, “God WILL PROVIDE a lamb.”

3. Finally, Abraham is ready to strike the death blow, and this is the part I love that’s in Hebrews 11:19, “Abraham assumed that if Isaac died, GOD WAS ABLE TO BRING HIM BACK TO LIFE AGAIN. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.”

Friends, I couldn’t sleep and was up praying at 1 am one night this week, and I was reminded of this story. I told God that I want to stop striving, begging, and wondering if my Josiah will be made well. I will stand for his healing, confident in the outcome no matter how bad things look. I place my son and his future, along with our hopes and dreams directly into his hands because this is what I know about who my Father God is:

1. Because he sacrificed and brought his own Son back to life, that blood that was shed was to rescue us from our sins and our sicknesses Isaiah 53. This promise is for whoever believes by faith Mark 16:16-18.

2. God cares about us, and even though we might have to go through some things, if we keep trusting in him, resisting the Devil, and staying strong in faith despite the current circumstances, we will be restored, supported and strengthened 1 Peter 5:6-10.

3. Because of his promise to us, we can trade in our worry and exhaustion for the assurance of his good future for us and our kids–that they will be made well, that they will hear, speak and sing Isaiah 35:3-6.

4. He makes some pretty bold claims that beg you to reconcile whether he’s a truth-teller or a liar, and you got to be all in or all out. And, he tells us that we can know he’s listening when we pray and if we ask him anything according to his will (healing, by the way is God’s will–Jesus and the disciples healed everyone who came to them asking for it), he will give it to us 1 John 5:1-15.

So, here we are. We’re in a fight that takes graduate-level obedience, faith and trust in God. It also takes studying the Bible to get a clue of who God is beyond the pale of our religion, tradition, or the little human boxes we try to put him in. That’s the Abraham-kind of faith that will help us going into any test or trial, knowing that we will come out the other side stronger and confident in God’s power more than our own comprehension of HOW it can all be accomplished.

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4 Responses

  1. There’s so much to this post that I want to spend some time chewing on it. Abraham is my favorite. I’m reminded of a book written by an acquaintance called “When I Lay My Issac Down.” Even though Abraham was asked to do something that seemed impossible, we, in a similar way are being challenged to lay our children down… In faith and obedience, we must offer them to God and trust Him to save, heal and care for them. Easier said than done, of course.

    Rom. 4:18 says that Abraham “against hope believed in hope.” It says that he was “fully persuaded that what God had promised He was also able to perform.” I truly admire your faith and stand with you in trusting God for Josiah’s recovery.

    BTW, you had me laughing at the legs on the donkey go clop, clop, clop all through the desert!

  2. The problem is not putting our child with autism on the alter like Abraham did, the problem is leaving him there not knowing what God’s plan for his life is. I keep wanting to take him back off the alter. We can pray for our child’s recovery, but it is up to God. Just like Abe didn’t know what would happen to his child, we don’t either. God is in control of my child’s future. It is ultimately God’s will which must be done, not mine, as much as I want my child to be made whole. Jesus didn’t always enjoy what He had to do in order that His Father’s will be done. But, he accepted and obeyed. The only time I have any real enduring peace in this Autism world is when I accept God’s will be done and try my hardest to leave my child on that darn alter.

  3. Randie, I so appreciate your comment, but I think there’s more to the story. I know faith and healing are complicated and controversial topics that have taken a lot of personal study on my part to begin to understand. What do we engage in the “good fight of faith” for, and what do we accept as God’s will or providence? With autism, I’m attacking it with the same fervor that I would if my child had cancer–it’s urgent, it’s causing issues in his body and brain, and it’s not WHO he is, so I’m fighting like a determined bulldog to see him well. I believe that healing can come through medical/biomedical/educational intervention, which we employ, but that God is the one who can make that body do what it’s created to do. I also believe that we are called to ask for healing. I simply challenge my readers to write down the questions you have, and then go to your Bible and look for answers, along with doing additional studies. Here’s an interesting article that could be helpful in looking at it a little bit differently: http://www.nwchurch-of-god.org.uk/docs/Gods%20Healing.pdf. Here’s a great book: http://www.amazon.com/Christ-Healer-F-Bosworth/dp/0800757394. I’m just challenging that I think God is in the rescuing business, not in the business of inflicting lifelong illness. He tells us to ask and keep on asking with persistence and belief.

  4. I completely agree with everything you said and we are utilizing all the same strategies with our son. I will fight and pray and hope until I draw my last breath, BUT nevertheless I accept that God is the one who decides the outcome for my precious child. We live in a sin fallen world. I pray that God will heal my child and make him “indistinquishable” from his typical piers. I pray that he will be able to live independently when he is grown and particularly after I die. But, I recognize that for whatever reasons, reasons which I will not ever fully understand God does not always heal, if He did none of us would ever die or suffer, He is the one who decides our ultimate outcome. I wouldn’t say that God is in the business of inflicting lifelong illness, but for whatever reasons He has chosen us for this journey. He is soverign. I hope He restores both of our sons but even if He doesn’t Lord willing I will keep on serving Him and loving Him and hopefully someday I will understand. I think it was Job that said, “Though He slay me, yet will I serve Him.”

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