He was an old man who talked to God like He was real.
He was an old man who felt the promise of His God swell within the womb of his wife. His child.
He was an old man who believed in God enough to grasp the knife, to hold it high above the body of his precious, only son. And he was strong enough to dig that knife into the boy's flesh, except that God's mercy kept him from killing his promise.
But he was flesh and human and real, and he wasn't prepared to kill the boy without reason. Abraham wasn't simply giving up Isaac out of a weak surrender. He was giving Isaac up, not passively, but with great faith in God's goodness, in His promise. He knew that Jehovah God could raise Isaac back (Heb 11:19), even after the blade had pierced the neck.
Abraham's act of offering Isaac would have been virtually worthless if not for Abraham's faith, His hope being placed in Almighty God's ability to make things right in the end.
And sometimes, God asks me to give up my loves, the people and plans that have become a part of me. But let me always refuse to simply give them up. Because this is no act of sacrifice. That is bitter drudgery. Rather, when He calls, let me open my hands and give, realizing that He very well could give back. But if He doesn't, it is not because this is the end, but because He sees an end story I don't know. And it will all be alright.
I will confess though, there's been one piece of my heart that God asked for awhile back. I've struggled, felt like it truly wasn't fair that He would grant a good gift and ask for it back (maybe I should have written this in present tense. ahem). That is my honest, raw heart's struggle. And especially after reading Psalms, I've come to the conclusion that it's okay to be honest with Jesus, to tell Him how I'm feeling, even that I don't understand sometimes. But, I was also reminded yesterday that there is a right way and a wrong way to do this. Ann Voskamp writes these words that tip me off into balance:
Lament is a cry of belief in a good God, a God who has His heart to our hearts, a God who transfigures the ugly into beauty. Complaint is the bitter howl of unbelief in any benevolent God in this moment, a distrust in the love-beat of the Father's heart. God's anger kindles hot when the essence of the complaint implies doubt in His love . . . Lament is this long learning . . . (One Thousand Gifts pg 175)
The difference is an unwavering faith, in coming to God, knowing who He is.
The difference in the sacrifice of Isaac is in unwavering faith, in offering to God, knowing who He is and what He can do.
And I find that there is so much more to this "Be still and knowing" then I ever imagined when God gripped my heart with it a year ago. In these moments of knife wielding and heart crying, I must always remember . . . to quiet myself and to know who really is God. And what that means that He is God. And this is faith and this is my lifeline and this really is the only way, the only strength to offer my Isaacs. Faith. Hope in a God of goodness.
*Picture from: http://www.rjgeib.com/thoughts/abraham/abraham.html*