The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (Genesis 22:15-18 NIV)
After giving Abraham and Sarah the gift of a long-awaited son, God instructed Abraham to “take a journey” with his beloved son, build an altar, place the child on this altar, and ... sacrifice his life to God? (Read the story in Genesis 21 and 22.) In reading this story, it is difficult to imagine what God may be doing!
As a father of six, I cannot imagine the depth of faith and trust Abraham demonstrated to have even left on that journey! Forty-four years ago, I went through an experience that would change my life forever. Our first child, who had lived a healthy three years of life, was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. Only fourteen days after her diagnosis, that precious girl died in my arms, and I came face to face with the question, “Who is it that you worship, Larry, the Gift or the Giver?”
In Genesis, God asked Abraham the same question. God asked Abraham to decide who it was that he would worship, the Gift (Isaac) or the Giver (God). At various points in our lives, we will all answer this question, and the answer will determine how we live life. Worshiping the Gift will only make us bitter, angry, cold, and unhappy. Worshiping the Giver will make us loving, caring, generous, and compassionate. Worshiping God, the Giver, enables us to live in the presence of a loving and giving God whose abundant generosity is always available to us.
So far in your life, especially during times of loss or crisis, how have you answered the question, “Whom do you worship?” When have you trusted God and when have you chosen something else?
Think of someone you know who has gone through tragedy and still has clearly trusted God and has remained positive and hopeful. Talk with the person and ask him or her these questions: How were you able to get through this? What role did faith play?
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