Abraham is one guy I would love to meet in heaven. If you want to talk about someone with a ton of faith in God, Abraham was the guy. Sure, he made mistakes (he was human, after all), but he had big moments of fantastic faith!
When God first calls him, He calls Abraham to set off towards a land that God would later show him. Abraham sets off and goes even though the end destination isn't clear. God never said how long Abraham would be wandering around the countryside in search of this land God was leading him to. It would seem Abraham's journey was one that was entirely unclear. To say the details were fuzzy or blurry, would be an understatement. Yet, Abraham sets off. He gets up and goes without any questions being asked.
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Abraham not only set out in this uncharted territory of following God to an unknown land, but he did it with his own uninformed faith. His faith wasn't informed by past experience, the pages of the Bible, or even a fellow friend who shared their experience with him. It was just him and God. THIS is why I think He's worth searching out to ask questions of when we get to heaven. His uninformed faith.
Things seemed to be going great. God had blessed Abraham with his promised son, Isaac. Regarding Isaac, God proved himself to be the keeper of His promises. All was well and good until this one day...
God asked the unexpected. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. The same exact child that God has promised to him. I don't even know what was going through Abraham's mind in that moment. I have two sons and I can't say that my faith is as big as Abraham's. I look at my boys and think "no way!" Abraham's choice was God or his son. My own heart would shatter into a million pieces should God ever ask such a thing of me!
Notice: Obedience. Abraham sets off early in the morning to head off to some unknown destination to sacrifice his son. He was obedient right off the bat. He didn't argue with God or even bring up that Isaac was the son God promised and faithfully gave him. He goes. He takes those first steps of complete faith without comment.
Notice: He believed God would provide. When Isaac inquired of where the lamb for the sacrifice was, Abraham responded, "God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son" (Genesis 22:8). He had faith that God would provide the sacrifice.
Notice: He believed that God was able. If we skip ahead to Hebrews 11, we see that Abraham considered that God was able to raise Isaac from the dead. So even if Isaac were sacrificed, he believed that God had the power to restore Isaac's life and return Isaac to Abraham. Let's remember that Abraham's faith had nothing to go off of other than his relationship with God. James 2:23 tells us that Abraham was a friend of God. That's what kind of relationship with God he had. He didn't have a relationship with God that was based on what he had heard about God or what he had read about God. Because of his friendship with God, he got to know the character of God and the character of God informed his faith.
Abraham was so committed to his obedience to God that he didn't withhold his son. He was so committed that God intervened while Abraham was in the act of sacrificing his son. He was at the point of no return and God delivered Isaac. God did provide the sacrifice (a ram) in place of Isaac. And as Hebrews 11 says, Abraham figuratively received his son back from the dead. Everything Abraham believed about God proved to be true.
So what can we learn from Abraham's story of unexpected sacrifice?
We don't have control over anything. God is completely sovereign and in control of everything. Do you ever think about that? We crave control over everything (and maybe everyone) but the simple fact of the matter is that we are utterly powerless. We're powerless against disease and sickness. We're powerless against the poor choices of others around us. We have no control over the time on the clock, the weather outside, or even the growth of a plant. I mean, sure, we can make the conditions for the growth of a plant as optimal as possible, but we're not the ones who cause the seed to grow. God's in charge of all of this. He's responsible for caring for our children. He can protect them from dangers and illnesses we aren't even aware of. He can lead them down their own path of adventure, maybe even a path we've never attempted to walk down ourselves. Do I really want complete control over my children's lives or would I rather have God, with his unlimited power and wisdom, lead my children in the best possible way? I don't know about you, but I want God to be in charge. I want Him to be in charge of me, my children, and the world around me!
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We discover a deeper faith. Because of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice, we discover that God is capable of raising the dead. We discover that God provides when what he's asking of us doesn't make sense. Where does our trust lie? Do we trust that He is in control, even when He asks us to lay down the things we hold the tightest? What can we learn from our own faith in God?
We learn that God is worth it. He has a plan even when we don't understand what it is. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his own promised son because God is worth it. God's friendship, leading, and love is all worth our sacrifice. Whatever the sacrifice is. Whether He calls us to lay down our control over our loved ones and circumstances. Whether He calls us to lay down our dreams, goals, and aspirations. Whatever the sacrifice is, God is worth it! You won't be disappointed!
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Like Abraham, let us not forget to snuggle up close to the Father. Let's not forget to invest in our relationship and friendship with God. If Abraham teaches us nothing else, let's not forget that God is not only trustworthy, but He's also completely worth the effort!