Have you ever struggled to understand what God is doing? Do you sometimes feel like you and God are just not on the same page? You count yourself a firm believer and you have seen God’s work in your life. You are “working out your salvation” by reading your Bible, attending Church, serving others, praying and listening for God’s promptings. And then maybe you pursued something that you felt God led you to… But, God seems like He is on vacation somewhere and everything around you is falling apart. How do you respond?
At over 100 years old, Abraham became a strong believer in God because he had seen God work in His life. When he was in his 70s, God told Abraham (then still called Abram), to leave his home, his family and his relatives and go to a new place, one that God had not yet revealed to him.
In exchange for his obedience, God made some very big promises:
- That his family would be a great nation;
- That he would be blessed;
- That his name would be well known;
- That those for him would be blessed;
- That those against him would be cursed; and;
- That through him, all families of the earth would be blessed.
Abraham obeyed and over the the next 30 years, he had seen God deliver on those promises, even though Abraham had not always chosen the right path. he had become a blessed man who was wealthy, successful in battle, known by kings and eventually, at 100 years of age, a father, with his wife Sarah who was post-menopausal – an absolute miracle!
And then one day, Abraham answers, “Here I am Lord”, and God sends him in a very unexpected direction. God asks him to quite literally make a sacrifice.
[God] 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 of which I shall tell you.” – Genesis 22:2 ESV
How did Abraham respond? Did he throw a fit? Did he pretend not to hear? Did he put out a poll to see what his followers thought? No, he got up early and did exactly as God asked – without grumbling.
So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. – Genesis 22:3 ESV
Abraham awoke that morning not knowing how it would work out for him, or his son, but he got up nonetheless. He did not stall or delay or whine or complain, but he cut wood for the sacrifice, travelled three days to an unknown place, and prepared everything as God specified. And, when the time came, God’s angel stayed Abraham’s hand just as he was about to sacrifice his son and then provided a ram to sacrifice instead. Incredible.
Is this how we act when we are confused by God’s plan and He has not let us in on how it will work out? I don’t know about you, but I know that my past reactions have varied wildly when presented with the “opportunity” to trust God even though we can’t see the entire picture. Abraham provides us a great example of how to “trust and obey” instead of “whine and complain”. Like Abraham, God has made us promises that we can count on and choosing to trust those promises and obey God’s leading will redeem your three-day journey.
Paul talks about this attitude in his letter to the Philippians. Abraham did not “labor in vain”. We should follow Paul’s advice and, with God’s help, do the same, and “shine like stars in the sky”.
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. – Philippians 2:12-18
Photo by Cliford Mervil: https://www.pexels.com/photo/starry-sky-over-mountains-2469122/