22 After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.”
It is a pretty good bet that God will never call upon us to sacrifice our children, as was done with Abraham. Our sacrifices have already been taken care of, through the death of Jesus on the cross, and the resurrection of Christ on Easter morning!
While we are not expected to sacrifice them, as Christians, we are called to dedicate our children to God, to teach them about the love that God has given to us through Christ, all in order to help show them the way to a faith that works for them. Many of us made this promise to raise our children in faith when they were baptized, to be an example of what it means to be a follower of Christ in all that we do.
In an attempt to follow this call, I took my daughter to church and Sunday school, prayed with her a night, and even read devotionals for her…just as my parents did for me. I also talked to her about faith in God and how it could help us to be better people and see us through all sorts of troubles, and how this faith can bring us together to help and to love each other.
I did my best…at least I would like to think so.
However, even though God does not want us to sacrifice our children as a burnt offering, there are still many things in this world that can take our children from us: temptations that include friends, popular culture that scoffs at the idea of God, as well as more serious things like drugs and alcohol. They can also get caught up with more positive things like school, work, relationships, or their passion for sports or the arts. The truth is that our children are designed to move with their lives, to break free, and sometimes we have to let go even when we do not want to…or when the thought of letting go scares us.
By the time my daughter was in middle school, she was refusing to go to church, and while
I was not happy about it, I did not push her to go. It wasn’t long after that she began to question the existence of God (which is not that unusual, but still bothered me). By the time she was in high school she had started pulling away from me, and got caught up in many activities that I did not like and that were not good for her. While I tried to address these issues with her there is only so much we can control when it comes to the lives of our children, and this becomes more apparent as they get older.
I have often questioned my judgment at not forcing my daughter to continue to go to church, thinking maybe if I had insisted she would have made better friends, and found a better direction in her life. However, this is what my parents did with me: forced me to go to church and stay active in the youth group, but it did not save me from falling prey to the temptations of our world. As parents, we sometimes just have to let go and accept that our children are on their own path in life!
This realization can leave us feeling frustrated and powerless, as we watch our children pull further away from us and the path in life that we would prefer for them; especially if we feel as if we are standing by while watching them make the same mistakes we did!
This is when we can take strength from Abraham, who had such faith in God that he was willing to sacrifice his son as a burnt offering! Abraham loved his son, and he also loved God and trusted the love that God shared with him. I like to think that this trust gave Abraham the faith to follow God’s direction, with the belief that God would not take the gift of Isaac from him in such a cruel manner.
Like Abraham we too can have trust in the power of God’s grace, trusting that the foundation of faith we gave our children has not crumbled in the face of the temptations and mixed messages of our world. For this is a strong foundation, based in the deep love that God has for us all, the love that shines forth from Christ, and that we all share together!
This foundation cannot only help when our children are troubled, but also when they are already on a good course in life, as no life is without challenges, and a strong faith in God’s love can only be an asset when dealing with life on life’s terms. Even a strong faith can be made stronger when it is shared with each other.
A strong foundation of faith can keep our children from falling under the weight of the world’s dangers, and their own mistakes. It can shine through their confusion about what they believe, as well as to address issues like school and work, relationships, violence, poor choices and even addiction. It is this foundation of faith that can give them hope and the desire to change and grow, to seek answers that work for them, and help them to find healing and make better choices.
Dedicated to the care of God’s love, taught the strength of our faith in action, and raised in the light of Christ, our children will be given all they need to let that light shine through their lives, despite all that life can put in their way. This faith has the power to bring them safely though all trials and into the new life given to Abraham and Isaac when God spared his life, and shared with us in the resurrection; the new life that makes us your children and brings us closer to your kingdom.
Let Us Pray:
God, Thank you that you do not ask us to make the same sacrifice you asked of Abraham. Please help us to have his faith, to trust the power of your love in our lives, and in the lives of our children. Let us give our children a strong foundation of faith, by dedicating them to your loving care, teaching them the power of faith in our lives, especially when it is shared with each other; for this faith has the power to see us through any challenge or trial, bringing us through the darkness and closer to your kingdom.