“When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, Abraham! Abraham!”
“Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!” Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.” Genesis 22:9-12
This story always hits me square in the stomach every time I read the words. They jump off of the page and I imagine myself in Abraham’s shoes. Abraham was obviously a man of great faith. When God told him to take his son and sacrifice him he could have run away. He could have said,” No, God, You can’t have my son! You can have anything, but not my son!” The fact that Abraham was willing to go through with the entire thing was proof of his obedience and love for God. You see, God asks for our whole heart when we make the choice to follow Him. He doesn’t tell us to follow Him with everything except the things we love most. Following God requires great sacrifice and Abraham showed God he was willing to give everything he had including his son.
We would lay down our lives right this minute for our children if it meant saving them. We wouldn’t hesitate. Jump in front of a car to save them, in a heartbeat. Give ourselves in trade for theirs? Without question, yes! Take their pain when they are hurting physically or emotionally? Of course, every single time! The question is, though, would we do it for God? God requires everything. God was not asking Abraham not to love his son, just that he not put Isaac before the Lord in his heart. That meant trusting that God loved Isaac too. God asks the same of us. That is tough. We have to trust that God loves our children as much, no more, than we love them. How often do we put our children above our love for God? They become everything to us when God asks us to make Him everything instead. This does not mean God does not want us to love our children with a fierce, unconditional love. That kind of love comes from God and only God. We are called to love our children in that way. We just can’t make it our only purpose here. I believe we are given our children so that we can help further the kingdom on earth, but it can’t take away from our love for God. I also believe when we are more concerned with following God than the world we naturally raise our children with that kind of love. When we let the Holy Spirit guide us rather than ourselves, things just work out better. Unfortunately we don’t always let the Holy Spirit guide us.
I am certain God will not be asking us to physically sacrifice our children, but he does ask that we sacrifice them in our hearts so that we make Him first and nothing else.
We seem to forget that God actually sacrificed His son for us. He knows exactly what that feels like. If God can physically sacrifice His son for us certainly we can make God first above everything else in our hearts.
Gracious Lord, help us each day strive to live this life for You and not for ourselves. We become selfish when we put ourselves first. Help us to consciously make You first in all areas of our lives. Help us to love each other and our children with a love that only comes from You. Forgive us of the times we put others before You including our children. We can count so many times in our lives when this happened. Help us to be like Abraham and willing to give it all to You. Thank You for forgiving us when we don’t and giving us the strength to start again and put You first. In Jesus Name, Amen.