“It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him.”
We place our faith in people, places and things all the time. We allow people we have never seen before put us to sleep, so another person we barely know can perform surgery on our body. We feel a genuine comfort in our home town, sleeping in our own beds. We ask our neighbors to watch over our homes while away, even asking them to take care of our mail.
Without a second thought, we trust our automobile will start and take us everywhere we want to go. We have a confidence our brakes, lights, tires and engines will perform to their maximum capabilities. Of course, we do spot inspections, and check the oil, but there is a lot about a car that is unseen.
My husband tells the story of the time the family’s Rambler Station Wagon, while at Gabe’s Shopping Center, had a problem. After shopping the family climbed back into the Wagon to return home. Halfway across the parking lot the car hit a little bump and the right front wheel broke off. As the right front corner of the vehicle plunged into the pavement, sparks flew as the car came to an unpleasant halt. Oh, the things we can’t see.
It is often said, “A faith that cannot be tested is a faith that cannot be trusted.” In James 1:2-4 of the Message the testing of our faith is addressed, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well developed, not deficient in any way.”
I don’t know about you, but there are times during tests I feel more like a Rambler Wagon than a mighty sixteen wheeler. It is hard to see these challenges as gifts, as I fall before God pleading to end them quickly and lessen the pain. But I must admit during these turbulent tests, I am reminded of my deeper need for God. Our pain then serves a greater purpose as a narrow pathway to God.
The life of Abraham reveals a life of faith in action. It is so important an example, God’s Word tells the story in Genesis of the Old Testament and reminds us about it again in Hebrews of the New Testament. One of his first acts of faith is revisited in Hebrews 11:8, “By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents.”
Maybe God is asking you to move to another location or to a place you have never seen before. Perhaps he wants you to try a new job, become a missionary, or take on a role you have no experience doing. From my personal experience, there is no greater joy than being in God’s Will for your life! Abraham did not dilly dally around; he obeyed God immediately without contemplating whether or not it was good for him. He knew God would not do him harm. The most important factor was the open lines of communication between Abraham and God. Abraham listened and obeyed God, and understood what He was calling him to do.
I believe one of our greatest tests of faith is found between two loves. I am referring to those things we dearly love and cherish; our blessings, and that which we supremely love, our Father in Heaven. The test is do we value our spouse, children, grandchildren, ministry, career, or purpose in life, more than we love God? There will be no doubt when God puts them to the test.
The ultimate testing of our faith comes when God asks us to give back to Him our greatest blessing. This will look different for each of us, but it will be obvious when it happens. God gave Abraham his greatest blessing when he gave him a son in his old age. Through Isaac, God promised Abraham to make him a father of many nations. God provided Abraham the greatest of blessings, and with it, the greatest of tests.
It is easy to reason giving up something harmful to us, but most challenging, and painful, to give up something we absolutely love.
In Hebrews 11:17-18 we read, “It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.”
As Abraham lifted the blade above his only son, his faith and trust in God was elevated to a higher plain. This act of obedience, and faith, demonstrated to God that Abraham loved the Creator more than the Creation. In Hebrews 11:19 it continues, “Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.”
God is asking each of us to place our life on the altar, to die to self, and become a living sacrifice for Him. He wants us to trust Him with our greatest blessing. When we pass this test of faith the Gates of Heaven will burst open with throngs of new believers!
Shaped by Prayer
Lord, help us to release and give back to you our greatest blessings. We want Your best for us, and above all, Your will be done in our lives. Lord Jesus, increase our faith as we step out and depend upon You for everything. We love You Father!