Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." -Genesis 22:12bRecently it came to my mind that perhaps we're all called to sacrifice our own Isaac.
You see, I've been struggling with an area of my life that isn't working as I think it should be. I've read about it (and am still reading about it), researched it, and feel like my expectation is consistent with the Bible and with Church teaching. And so my dissatisfaction and frustration feel justified. I'm not being unreasonable...this is how it is suppose to be. But the other day (while out on my daily walk with our dog), it occurred to me that despite that my desire for this aspect of my life to be a certain way may be good and valid...the whole thing may now have too much importance in my life. I have become obsessed with things not being the way I want them to be. I get too distracted and/or too distraught when I'm reminded that things in this area of my life simply aren't right. And it hit me...this is my Isaac.
We have to remember that there was nothing wrong with Isaac. He wasn't evil or bad (he was just a boy)...and in fact, he was the fulfillment of a promise God made to Abraham and Sarah. He was a divine gift. So the fact that Sarah and Abraham treasured him made perfect sense. But maybe things started to get a little skewed. I mean if we think about it, Abraham had been wanting a son for a long time....years upon years. At one point He even took one of his servants as a wife just for the sake of hopefully having a son (even though that was not God's plan). And so when God finally opened Sarah's womb and she gave birth to a baby boy, you can only imagine how much love and attention Abraham poured out on his son. And of course that is good and as it should be. We are to love out children whole-heartedly. But the truth is, we are to love nothing...nothing and no one...more than God. And so maybe Abraham was a little too obsessed with his son...plans for his future...dreams of him taking over for his dad one day. Maybe Abraham was a little too distracted by this love for his son...or maybe he became a little too distraught when things didn't go exactly as he thought they should with his son. So God stepped in to set things right...and to remind Abraham of the proper priorities for his life. And how could God do that? He asked Abraham to let it go...to remove it...to cut out of his life that thing that took him away from God. God asked Abraham to sacrifice...to kill...to permanently remove whatever was in his life that was usurping God's position.
And so here I am...recognizing the Isaac that is in my life. I know that God has led me to where I am in my life. He has brought me to this place where I can realize all these incredible gifts. But I have let one of these gifts become an idol. I have let myself become obsessed with one of God's gifts...I have let it become a pursuit separate from and above God Himself. And most telling of all...I have come to value this gift so much that not only do I not want to be without it...but I can't imagine God wanting me to let it go...in fact I practically deny it as a possibility.
So my choice is clear. I must sacrifice it. If it is that important to me...if it has become an assumed "must have" in my life....then I am not trusting God...trusting Him to meet my every need...in whatever way He sees fit. So it must be let go. I must be willing to carry the fire and wood all the way to the altar. I need to be willing to take the knife and prepare to slay this part of my life. I need to be prepared to let this gift go...to live without it...to pluck out my eye for the sake of it not causing me to sin (Mark 9:47). And I can't bank on God's intervention. I can't do all this hoping for...counting on...God stepping in as He did with Abraham to stop me. No...I have to be willing to see this through. I need to be willing to actually let this good thing go...because by giving it more importance than it deserves...I have twisted it into something bad. And it is better that I live without this good thing...than to let it distract me from my first priority: To know Him, to Love Him and to serve Him.