My friend Gretchen said “We are being faithful.”, in fact she says this quite often and I guess since she has repeated it so much lately I have thought about it more than usual. One of my first thoughts while we were setting up for a school informational meeting last week, was about Isaac in the Bible as his father, Abraham went to sacrifice him. I thought about how people always mention this was God’s test of Abraham’s faith, but it seems to me that Isaac also had much faith and was being tested. He had faith in his father and so the test was from heavenly father to his earthly father to his son.
Here read Genesis 22 and I’ll continue afterwards:
Here read Genesis 22 and I’ll continue afterwards:
22 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram[a] caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring[b] all nations on earth will be blessed,[c] because you have obeyed me.”
Goodness! If someone was walking me to what seemed to be imminent death, I think I would fight or run and hide, something, but no, Isaac walked with his father and trusted him. That is faithfulness! I think about Isaac coming up to the alter and realizing he had to get up on the very wood his body would possibly be burned with. What was he thinking? Was he just hoping and praying for this lamb to be provided? Was he just ignorant or clueless? (I wondered this and so I went to see how old he was and so if you are interested look here: http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1272) I would be looking everywhere, asking, where is this lamb you talked about? I would be growing scared, frustrated and impatient. How did he do this? I guess he had that amazing child- like faith that doesn't question and just follows. That in itself is just amazing to me.
Having been a nanny for years and now having my own children, I can testify on this child- like faith. Some of it is placebo effect, telling my child that if I kiss the boo boo it will feel better and magically it does. Telling them, like my mom told us as kids, that sleep actually is what makes you grow, so that when my boys wake up from their naps they ask “How big did I get?" And I put them up to my belly and measure and show them a teeny bit with my fingers. They have a trust in me and a faith that what I am saying is right and true.
However, there is also a faith in my intentions, plans, love and hopes for them that no matter what they trust completely. When we are walking in a crowded place I have my child’s hand in mine and I can guide them to the bathroom or to the exit without them even being aware of where we are going. If I wasn't paying close attention (which actually had been the case) they would run in to a wall, person or chair since they are not paying attention. I lead and they follow. They don’t say “I don’t recognize this area!”, or “Are you sure you know where you are going? They don’t say “Can we go another way? Or “Is there another place I can go? nope, they just follow my lead. Sure as they get older, they question more and as adults, most of us do this with the Lord too. I so wish I could always be so trusting and follow the Lord without questioning, reasoning and occasionally worrying what things will turn out like.
Another thought is how did Abraham know God would provide the lamb? He said
“God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” God never told him that there would be a lamb in the bushes. God never said do this and I'll send an angel at the last minute to get you out of this cruddy situation, so how did he know? Now to this question, I have more of an answer than what was going through Isaac’s mind and how could he be so obedient and compliant. I believe that Abraham had faith from the Lord, a personal relationship and trust and I believe that the Holy Spirit which is part of the ever-living Trinity gave Abraham peace and confidence to go forward blindly without knowing that just seconds before he thrust a knife into his son’s body that the angel would provide. What a relief to know that your faithfulness paid off. I often feel I live my life for the payoff and would like to just skip the tests.
The last thought on this story is how we are all descendant because of Abraham’s faith. Wow! I remember singing that song Father Abraham with all the motions in church as a kid and at night looking up at the starts and thinking that’s a lot of descendants! He was rewarded for his faithfulness to the Lord in doing what he told told even if it seemed crazy. God is so amazing and faithful. I totally get this this insane trust. Just one example is when I started a University- Model School for middle school - high school students in 8 months while 5 months of that time I was going through chemo and had no idea if I'd live or die and sometimes it seemed crazy, but I knew without a doubt it was what God wanted. It was His vision and plan and I am so thrilled with what His has created even if it did go through some refining fire which was difficult at times. He taught me so much and allowed me to be used and I can't think of anything better ion this world than being used for the Lord's glory. I know it's a small thing and that starting some school in Katy, Texas isn't changing the world big time, but I do believe that it is making an impact on His children for good and that they in turn will impact the world for good. How cool to be a part of that! What a reward!
Hope and faithfulness go hand in hand. I think if when we are told or given a specific task by God to do something then it’s pretty easy to do it (usually) if we have example or experience in it already. For example, when you are pregnant, you have faith that there is a baby growing and it’s not a duck for example, because you have seen time and time again what happens. Man and woman = baby (Example) and so you hope it will be healthy and happy, but really you don’t wonder or worry too much in carrying your baby other than doing what you know you should do like eating well, abstaining from alcohol and smoking and just general common sense.
That in my mind is easy faith. I always believed that if the Lord loved my kids more than me that He would always provide and take care of them and that’s why for the most part I didn't worry about how even having six, they were to be fed, clothed and why even without the savings I don’t stress about college and braces and such even though I know they are quite real to come expenses, I just believe that the Lord will provide. God gave us the blessing of six children and I have the easy faith that he will provide. With each kid we had, it got easier instead of more difficult because we had seen God provide time and time again. (Experience) In fact every time we had a child we were given financial blessing too. Weather a pay raise, new job, or money from a deceased grandparent or whatever, he provided. It became fun to see how the Lord would provide because we always knew he would.
So you can see my train of thought here: easy faith is when from example or experience you can trust that the Lord is good and you can do what He says. This faith has a light shining on it so that the way is easy to find.
I recently heard the story of Michael W. Smith and his wife of 26 years and they got married after 4½ weeks. They talk about how they just knew. They knew this is what the Lord wanted. It was a gift from God. “Faith is always a gift from God, and never something that can be produced by people. For the believer faith is "God's divine persuasion" – and therefore distinct from human belief (confidence), yet involving it. The Lord continuously births faith in the yielded believer so they can know what He prefers, i.e. the persuasion of His will (1 John 5:4).”
How cool! I have had this divine persuasion many times; in moving homes, starting to home school, starting up support groups and school programs, helping people in life and in giving money, etc. I have even had the Holy Spirit guide me which way to go when I have been lost on a back road or when I’m not sure what I should try to accomplish in the day or how to bring up a tough subject with someone. The Lord has led us to our church and opportunities and even doctors. The more I/ we trust and seek the easier it gets.
Difficult faith to me is when you don’t know by example and from experience what the Lord wants and where he is leading you. Romans 12:3: "For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. God has allotted us each a measure of faith. That means we have it, we just have to use it. I think that getting cancer was definitely the biggest shake to my faith walk at first as I had never been there before and I didn't know what that would mean. It was scary and still when I think about the possibility of cancer sneaking back up I get a little scared even though I know and trust the Lord and know His ways are the best. I feel like with cancer I am walking in a dark room and I can’t see what’s in front of me. I still have faith; it’s just more difficult in going forward when you aren't sure how the Lord will bring everything to fruition.
Habakkuk 2:4: "Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live in his faith" This is the verse that makes me okay with shutting my eyes and following even without seeing where we are going as I want to be righteous. I don't need to be proud in my own strength as in my weakness His strength is made perfect. I want to be here today and everyday.
I found this quote somewhere "In Scripture, faith and belief are not exactly the same. Faith always comes from God and involves His revelation therefore faith is beyond belief!" I am often struck by people that try to make it on their own power and thinking without going to the Lord first as He has all the answers and knows the future and so it seems pretty stupid to not start there when you have questions about life. Where He is leading you and what is His will for your life? It may be very easy for you now but you may feel like you are in a dark room and unsure where you are going. Trust in the Lord and ask him to help you with your faithfulness.
Yesterday, I was working at our Covenant Prep booth at Summerfest, a small shopping center festival and there was a woman that came by. I offered her two young kids a VBS flyer to the church our campus meets at. She asked, “What is VBS? I told her it stood for Vacation Bible School and she said “We don’t believe in all that bible stuff and huffily walked off almost offended at my offer along with stickers and candy. I immediately prayed that this woman would have her eyes opened and that the Lord would reveal the Truth to her and he kids. Later I told one of my friends working the booth about her and asked her to pray. I said “She doesn't have hope.” About 20 minutes later we saw the woman scream and yell and even hit one of her kids as they allowed one of their shiny new balloon animals to pop in the grass by not holding it tighter. We felt so sorry for the kids, her and the situation. I don’t know this woman or her name, but please pray for her, God knows her and her family. I just want her to have real truth and hope in life and those aren't possible without Jesus.
Anyways, I know this is long. I hope it helps someone if even to think about Faithfulness and what it means to you today. Perhaps we all need to be a bit more like Abraham and Isaac.