Yesterday I had the pleasure of “skyping” with my one of my favorite people, Ms. Lucy. She is the sweetest thing and I am amazed at how God connected us in this season. She read my blog one day, emailed me and we have been corresponding ever since via email. Since she is on a totally different continent and country, we are unable to hop on a flight for a visit, so skyping was the next best thing. The amazing thing about my relationship with Lucy is that I see so much of myself in her. The confusion/frustration about God’s ways, yet the desire to follow them anyway. Communicating with her is like a chance to communicate with my younger self. Being raised an only child, my relationship with Lucy gives me a chance to be a “big sister” so-to-speak. I am always in awe of how the Lord will use us to edify one another and especially how He will use my past experiences to relate to her and encourage her. In sharing some past experiences with her yesterday, I couldn’t help but be grateful for the testimony. Though the tests were hard at the time and very painful, I would not be able to effectively encourage her had I not went through the process.
I’ve been meditating on the period of testing that Abraham went through. What speaks to me about him is how much faith he was required to keep demonstrating (over and over) to the Lord. Initially, God asked him to leave everything he knew, his country, his family, all that was familiar and follow an unseen God of whom he had no prior knowledge of. He may have known about Adam and Eve and Noah, however he did not have the Bible like we do. He did not have Moses and the deliverance of the Israelites, etc…to go off of. It was just him and the Alpha & Omega. So he’s sojourning through the land and he’s promised a child of his own. Well, after about 10 years his wife Sarah gets antsy and she gives him permission to make this child with her maidservant and out pops Ishmael. Fast forward 14 years later and STILL no promised child.
Abraham loves Ishmael. He’s been waiting for this kid. So much so, that he ignored God’s will and submitted to his wife’s request. But God visits him AGAIN and tells him about this promised kid, Isaac. Abraham loves his son Ishmael so much he says “Lord, may Ishmael live before you!”. Have you ever taken matters into your own hands, settled, and asked God to accept the settling? Bless it even? But God was adamant. Isaac was the promised one. And he encouraged Abraham to wait just one more year. So finally, after 25 years, God’s promised kid makes it on the scene. But then there’s jealousy and friction between the “baby momma’s” so to speak. Hagar and Sarah are at odds and thus Hagar and Ishmael make their way into the wilderness. Even though God did bless Ishmael with his own blessings, Abraham’s settling created drama and still caused him to give up the son that he loved (Ishmael). So ultimately the reason for his settling was in vain. Then of course, he is tested to give up Isaac. Now at that point, when God asked for Isaac to be sacrificed, I probably would have caved if I were Abraham. He left all He knew for God, he’s been waiting 25 years for this promised kid, he had to give up Ishmael and now God wants Isaac?! But thankfully, Abraham did not give up. He had faith. He knew that God could raise the dead if that was what needed to happen for His promise of descendants through Isaac as numerous as the stars to come forth.
I think it’s amazing that we as believers have that type of heritage. Not only do we have Jesus Christ who endured the unthinkable prior to the cross and during, but we have a slew of men and women, flawed as they were, who walked by faith (Heb 11). Their faith was tested, over and over and over again, and they endured. They endured b/c God was with them. One thing I have learned is that God does not give a test that we will fail. He gives it to strengthen us in the areas we are weak in.
Maybe one day I will be like David and actually ask to be tested. “Search me O God, and know my heart, try me and know my anxieties”. But for now, I’m grateful to have just overcome a few of them…