“Some time later God tested Abraham.” —Genesis 22:1
Some time after God’s promise of Sarah giving birth to a son came to pass, God stepped into the picture and gave Abraham a test pertaining to Isaac. God called Abraham and said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain that I will show you” (Genesis 22:1-2).
We know this was a test because Abraham was not provided the information in advance. From the story of Abraham, we know he struggled with trusting God and waiting for His promises to come to pass. In this testing, God was striking at the very thing Abraham held most dear, his only son. Isaac represented everything to Abraham, all his hopes for the promise of God to come to pass. Now, God was asking Abraham to let go of Isaac.
Growing up, I always struggled with this story. I used to walk away thinking that God might arbitrarily at some point in my life place His finger on something and ask me to surrender it. He might take my most treasured possession from me and force me to choose between following Him or holding on to that possession. As a kid, I had a Chicago Bulls jacket that I really liked and a snowboard that I really enjoyed, but I was living with fear, like God would ask me to give these away or surrender them.
Yet, letting go was not a foreign concept to Abraham. When we revisit his story, in every step of his walk with God, he had to let go of something. Abraham had to let go of his country of origin, let go of his family of origin and let go of his own father to go to the land that God would show him. When Abraham got to the Promised Land, he had to let go of his nephew Lot, and after Isaac was born, he had to let go of Hagar and Ishmael. Abraham had lost a lot already, but each time he let go, his hands were open to embrace what God had for him.
After studying the story of Abraham in depth, I do not believe the story is about God arbitrarily placing His finger on something and asking Abraham to surrender it. God was testing Abraham to see if he trusted Him, by selecting something very specific that God had already attached His promise to and seeing if Abraham would faithfully respond. When God asked him to let go of Isaac, God was actually asking Abraham to trust Him completely above all else.
PRAYER: Dear God, I confess that there are things in my life that I hold more dear than You. Show me what I need to let go of, in order to embrace more of You in my life. Thank You, God.