Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Isaac said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide the lamb for the burnt offering my son.” So the two of them walked on together. (Genesis 22:7-8)
I like to pray. I seem to be praying a lot lately.
My prayers are often very conversational in manner. I often feel like I am having a conversation with God. These conversations are my pouring out what I am thinking about, what I am worrying about. I am sharing what occupies my mind.
Recently I have come to realize that most of my prayers can be broken up into some pretty basic categories. Often my prayers are ones of help!
There is this challenge going on in my life, help! There is this dilemma I am (or we as a church are) facing, help! There is this difficulty that my friend is facing, help!
It has been amazing to me how often I have found myself in a position to be saying, “I don’t know how to do this alone, help!” that I have turned and found the very help that I have needed. My life of faith, this journey of faith that I have been on, is one of discovering how much God does want to walk with me and guide me into a deeper, a more rich life.
In the book of Genesis there is this odd story that used to always strike fear in me when I was a child and trouble me as a younger adult. It is the story of Abraham being willing to sacrifice his son, Isaac (In Genesis 22). I think it struck fear into me as a child because I wondered what on earth I would do if my father decided that God was inviting him to sacrifice me! I took it personally.
I became troubled by many features of the story as a young adult, like – How could God ask Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac? Isaac was to be the child of the promise, wasn’t he? It is a troubling story.
Today, I see this story in a different light. Not so much from the standpoint of Isaac, or even of God – but much more so from the standpoint of Abraham. You see, the story of Abraham is that Abraham really wanted to follow God. He did amazing things in following God. He left his home not once, but many times at the urging of God.
Yet all along the journey, as he faced challenges, he wanted to trust God, but he continued to hold something back or he tried to work the angles so it would come out his way.
By the time we get to this story in Genesis 22, God had not only provided for Abraham. But God had supplied a couple of children. God had identified Isaac as a child of the promise. On top of that God had helped Abraham become fairly stable. And Abraham realized that he could trust God.
Ultimately, this is a story of trust. God invited Abraham to go to a holy Mountain and take his son and offer a sacrifice. Abraham understood that to be his son Isaac. And Abraham went. I don’t know what kind of inner turmoil he had, and I am sure that he did. We don’t know how he talked his way through that one. But I suspect he ultimately decided, “I really don’t understand what is going on, but I am going to trust for God to take care of me and us and to provide for us.”
Ultimately, God did. That for me is the blessing of the story.
When I find myself facing challenges and willing to cry out for God to “help!” I am coming to realize that God is there. God can be trusted. Because I believe that, because I have lived that experience of seeing God walk with me, it helps me to pray, to have the ongoing conversations with God.
How do you nurture your ongoing conversations with God? When do you cry out for help? How are you learning to trust? May we, like Abraham, learn to trust in the one who calls us and cares for us.
Gracious God, thank you for walking with us on this journey of life. Teach us to trust your invitation, just as Abraham learned to trust you. Send us where you need us to go, so we can share the love and hope you give us with others. In the hope Jesus offers us, Amen.