I think we can be sincere in our desire for the things of the Lord and still desire other things more. (No Other Gods, Minter, page 111)
The last day of our Bible Study this week highlighted the story of Abraham and Isaac. In summary, Abraham was married to Sarah for many, many years and they had no children. Finally, in their old age, God gave them a child, Isaac. He was an answer to years and years and years of prayer.
In his book, The Pursuit of God, A.Z. Tozer discusses the story of Abraham and Issac:
Abraham was old when Isaac was born, old enough to have been his grandfather. And the child became at once the delight and idol of his heart. From the moment he first stooped to take the tiny form awkwardly in his arms, he was an eager love slave of his son….
The baby represented everything sacred to his father’s heart: the promises of God, the covenants, the hopes of the years and the long messianic dream. As he watched him grow from babyhood to young manhood the heart of the old man was knit closer and closer with the life of his son until the relationship bordered upon the perilous. (Tozer, p. 24)
In Genesis 22, God asks the unthinkable. He asks Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God. Why? Because God wanted to know that Abraham would be willing to do anything He asked?
I can only imagine what those next three days were like. Abraham had prayed for years and years and years for something so precious, God answered that prayer and now God wanted him to give it up? Think of the torment that he went through as Isaac asked him, “Where is the lamb for our sacrifice?”
We have to believe that where God wants to take us will be better than what we’re clinging to, even if we can’t imagine it. (No Other Gods, Minter, page 107)
There is so much that I can’t imagine yet in my life. I can see today and today’s challenges, but I can’t imagine how a year from now I will be different, or where God will take me. But this story has an interesting perspective. God was not asking Abraham to sacrifice his son as an offering. God was asking Abraham to give up his sin as an offering. It was the sin that had developed in his relationship with Isaac that God wanted Abraham to offer up to Him.
In my struggle to be what God wants me to be I’ve always seen my sins and my sinful nature as a barrier. Something that I needed to purge from my life, not as an offering I could give up to God. Offerings are things that are clean and pure. But in offering up my sins — “the other things I desire more” — I am making room for God to fill me with more of Him. I am asking God to fill me with more of Him.
Will God ever make the request of us that he made of Abraham? I believe he does everyday. It may not be giving up a child, but it may be giving something up that has gotten in the way of our relationship with Him. And it may be something we’ve prayed really hard for over many, many years. It may be something we crave or long for when it is gone.
But it is the things that we hold dearest that make the most beautiful offerings, for in giving them to God, he can open one more door that will lead us to the person He wants us to be.
The scary thing is that God asked me to lay them down before I knew whether or not I could live without them. Some of them he graciously gave back, but others he did not. In all cases, it was both for my good and His glory. (No Other Gods, Minter, p.116)