Monday, December 20, 2010


We all hate tests and the only thing worse are finals. As the semester ends and we approach Christmas, students are glad their exams are over. When you read about Abraham’s life in the Bible, you see that his whole life led up to a huge final exam. It challenged his faith to the endth degree. It was the greatest test of all.

Many times in Abraham's life, his faith failed him. But the great thing is that although his faith failed him, God never ever failed him. Abraham loved Isaac his only child, and he was extremely proud of him, but even more important all of Abraham’s spiritual hopes were centered in him. His own hope of heaven was centered in God’s promise of the Savior that was to come out of the line of Isaac. You can almost see him with worshipful eyes as he looks upon his son, thinking of the promises of God, and thinking of the miracle of God in his life. But God had to have that place. God must occupy the highest place in our hearts.

How do we give Him the highest place in our hearts? Sometimes you must let go of what you love. In Abraham’s case it was his one and only son. In Genesis 22:2 God said to Abraham, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."

I’m not saying that God will tell you to do what He told Abraham. The principle that applies to all of us is letting go of something we love if it keeps us from letting God have the highest place in our lives.

Things were going great for Abraham and his family, and then out of the dark of the night a voice said to him, “Take your son and give him up as a sacrifice to Me.” Abraham’s world came crashing down around him. He couldn't believe that this, his son of promise, was to be taken away from him. The turmoil in his mind and in his heart, the “spiritual wrestling” that he went through, coming to the realization that God gave this son and now God wants to take him away again. But “Why?” His heart must have broken.

At first glance it almost seems that God is mocking Abraham. If you know the story, God promised Abraham and Sarah a son and through that son a great nation would grow. And now God was going to take his son away? Why did God say it the way He did – that he was to offer his son to God as a sacrifice? Had Isaac grown too dear to Abraham’s heart? Had he begun to take God’s place in his thinking?

But Abraham’s response was immediate. He quickly arose and traveled 3 days with Isaac until they reached the place of sacrifice. I wonder what thoughts crowded his mind during that long journey. Did he doubt God’s wisdom? Surely this question must have raced through his mind: “If Isaac, who was born as the result of a miracle and is the son of promise, why is God asking me to kill him?” The patriarch, Abraham, however, did not retreat, disobey, or turn aside to avoid making this ultimate sacrifice.

Here is what God is doing in each of our lives:
God is leading each of us to the place where He asks us all to “let go” of our “Isaac”, to let go of the thing that we love and let God own it.

God wants every child of His to get to the place where everything in your life is consecrated to Him, sacrificed to Him, given to Him.

When you can learn to let go of the thing you love, the thing you're worrying about, the child that’s breaking your heart, the problems that are in your life that you're frustratingly trying solve – when you let go of them and let God “own” them, the miracle of God's grace is this: He gives you back something far greater – peace of mind, depth of relationship with Him, strength of character, a stronger faith, freedom from your fears, and confidence in knowing that God will meet all your needs.

When we take the gifts God gives us and grip them tightly to ourselves, we may find ourselves loosening our grip on God. When that happens we need to let go of the gift, let God own it, and strengthen our grip on Him, the Giver.

This Christmas as we are reminded of how the Heavenly Father offered up His only Son as a sacrifice for our forgiveness and salvation, may we gladly release to God whatever it is that we love more than Him. May our love for the Giver overshadow our love for the gifts.

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