June 8, 2016: “Oh, God said to Abraham…”

Tiepolo-Abraham-and-Isaac-wga

Genesis 22:1-14 (NRSV)

After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 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.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.” Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together. Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.

When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”

I doubt that I would have the faith of Abraham.

As a father, I would do anything I could to keep my daughter safe, I would like to think that any parent would, even Abraham.  Yet, in today’s reading we find Abraham tested, as God gives him a command that seems impossible for any loving parent to follow.  It must have been hard to Abraham to make this journey with Isaac, and have faith that God’s love for him would not fail…and in the end, just as he was about to offer his son as a sacrifice, God intervened, letting him know it was just a test, and that he had passed.

And instead of being angry or upset, Abraham offered up praises to God, for sparing the life of his son, and seeing them both through this extreme test!

Fortunately for us, God does not test our faith the way Abraham was tested…because we live in the light of the Resurrection, God’s ultimate gift of love to us as the children of God.  However, this does not mean that we are not tested…especially as parents!

Many of us may have had the experience of watching our children go astray, and fall victim to the evils of this world, like addiction in all of its forms.  When my own daughter was struggling, I would have done anything to keep her safe, even if it meant sacrificing myself so that she could be free from her bondage to drugs!  Yet no matter what I did, nothing helped, and often my best efforts made things worse!

In time, I simply had to let go, and trust in God’s grace, that the light of Christ also shone for her, as well as for me!

It took a lot of faith to trust that God would see us through…and I did not always have the faith of Abraham, as mine often faltered as I gave in to my fears and frustrations, but then, this is normal, because I love my daughter, and I am still human.  Knowing I could not ‘fix’ my daughter, I reached out to others for help and support: friends, 12-step groups, my church and professionals.

Today I see all these people as signs that God was still with me, even if I didn’t feel like it then!  These people helped me to keep my faith, and helped me to detach with love, giving my daughter the room to be able to begin to turn things around, and then providing me with the strength to be there for her when I really could help.

Through the faith they shared with me, my faith was strengthened and I was able to trust in the truth that it is never God’s will for his children to know pain or suffering, but instead for us all to be happy, joyous and free from the evils of this world. Free to rejoice as Abraham did, whenever we are delivered from our fear and our struggles, free to reach out to help others, and free to recover and move on, if our endings are not always happy ones…for God’s love will never leave us, and that in the light of this love we are never alone.

Let Us Pray:

Dear God, thank you for watching over us, and for seeing us through any test that life my offer us.  Please help us to have just some of the faith of Abraham, when faced with these tests, especially those that effect our children…those we are powerless in the face of.  Let us remember that you are powerful and that, like us, you never want any of your children to know pain in their lives.

Amen

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