But this is exactly what Abraham knows God to be asking. Abraham takes Isaac to the place of sacrifice. The fire is set. Imagine the setting – and then hear the young (perhaps 7-8 year old) Isaac ask: ‘daddy, the fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham replies with a simple and pained: ‘God will provide.’
As Abraham raises the knife to sacrifice his son, the Angel of the Lord stops him. Now God knows that Abraham really believes in ONE GOD.
Let’s try to appreciate more deeply the significance of this event.
If someone had watched my life very closely over this past week, I fear that they might not see the evidence of my life this week to pointing to my belief in One God. On Tuesday I was totally preoccupied with a project that has been hanging over me for some time. I fear that on Tuesday it might have looked as though this project was my God. On Thursday I was a bit anxious and worried. Anxiety and fear had become my God.
Let’s consider this definition: anything (or anyone) I cannot let go of has become my God.
Abraham knew that to possess even his loved son Isaac, more than to desire God’s will, is a path away from freedom and towards captivity.
The extent to which I ‘possess’ any thing (or attitude, or fear,) or person, is the extent to which I am not free. The extent to which I am not free is the extent to which happiness will elude me.
Abraham, who believed in one God, and who lived for the one God, was a free man. He was a happy man. He is our Father in Faith. And faith is about freedom.
Abraham relaxed into God’s plan, and had more of all he longed for than he could ever have achieved with his own plans and energies.
Relaxing into the will of God is the path to a more full life than we could even imagine.
Why then do we grasp at anything that promises a moment of satisfaction, when eternal love and life is offered to us? Simply because we are not free. Our fears and compulsions drive us. In our hopes and dreams we settle for what is available.
I’m reminded of holding my new niece seven years ago. She was just a couple of weeks old. As I held her she reached out and grasped my little finger with surprising strength. It was as if she had picked up (in her few days of life on earth), that one needs to hold on to be secure. She was welcome to hold on to me, or to let go if she wanted to play this game. But whether or not she held on to me made absolutely no difference to her security. In my embrace she was totally secure.
And the same is true of us and God. This was the confidence of Abraham’s faith.
We have nothing to fear. Everything is given to us. Let us relax into the embrace of God.