Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Raising the Blade

It hit me like a wave of despair.  I was learning of events that were terrible and tragic, events that I wished nothing to do with.  On the surface this seems a tremendously selfish and awful statement.   Yet to embroil myself, to entangle our family would be to jeopardize a peace and a final sense of well-being that we had sore been missing - a tranquility that had been eluding us for over five years.  My gut reaction:  to protect, to shelter, to screen my household from an unwelcome intrusion upon our safety and security.

God's blessings have recently overwhelmed us in remarkable fashion (see here).  This problem belonging to others, if embraced, threatened to upset the ordered and balanced state of our home for years to come.  My bride and I needed rest, needed a break.  Recent years have proven a grueling journey and of late I've been feeling like I've earned a respite, a bit of a time out on the sidelines to rejuvenate.  Further, the amazing blessing of our home has created a sanctuary for us that I have come to personally treasure.  For the first time in time unaccounted I long for no other place than with my children and bride in the presence of our home.  It has become my reprieve from a rapid paced world, my daily hiatus from external pressures and demands.  In my home I find rest and peace of mind.  Even in working around my home, my soul is refreshed.

And now the rumble of storm clouds on the horizon left me cringing for what might be...
I promised myself I would pray for those involved. 

His mind was reeling from the absurdity of it all, yet he knew with certainty what was being asked.  He knew the ageless voice that was asking.  All he could do was trust.  Trust in a God who had promised.  Trust in a God who had never failed.  Trust in a God who had spoken into the deep of his heart as he pondered the stars in the depths of their sanctuary.  Yet trust had limits didn't it?  Surely there was another way.  Yet none had been offered - simply the repeated command.  Sacrifice. 

He told the servants they would return, half hoping for the truth of this statement, half pleading silently for an alternate course.  Yet none had been given and the weight of what was required laid heavy upon him.

Gently he laid the bound child, the sticks and tender. 
"Daddy - it hurts!" his son cried.
"I know son - it will not last long."
Tears welled as he pondered the purity of innocence laying before him - the future that was going to be extinguished by his own hand.
His heart tore as he realized with finality there was no alternative - this was the price of relationship.
Covering his beloved boy's face Abraham raised the blade...

Picture yourself in the darkest of moments being called upon to perform such an act against your own beloved child - to extinguish the spark of life, the joy of your heart.  Often we've read this passage from Genesis 22 and often we've listened to the foreshadowing comparatives of Jesus, but place foot in shoe as the "father of faith" was taken to the edge of his by the Omniscient. 

A promise was given, but a future was asked of him.  Blessing was bestowed, but a life was required.  This passage shows that the One who blesses and promises is not interested in our short term comfort or our temporal pleasure at the cost of our eternal worth or effectiveness in His Kingdom.  This is a harsh reality that many will close hearts and minds to.  At times, I have.

How often have we made our homes, our habitats, our resting place, our escape in place of a Savior who has stated:

"Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest."
Matt 11:28

Has our trust, our security become the calm of domus or faith in well constructed plans rather than the Rock upon which we build.

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you."
Isaiah 26:3

Then a whispered word levels all excuses and drives to repentance all who would withhold self for fear of intrusion into their balanced natural order:

"Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it's in your power to help them. If you can help your neighbor now, don't say "come back tomorrow, and then I'll help you."
Proverbs 3:27 - 28

This passage is just a few verses under my bride's life verses of Proverbs 3:5 and 6:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."

In our fear of the unknown future do we begin to trust in the provision, rather than in the one who provides?  In this state, a protecting of self, of status quo, of safe living is harboured in the heart.  In this state, we are less willing to recklessly love, to engage without restriction the damaged and broken around us.  Everything is going well, we state that we are "blessed", bills are paid, needs are met, plans are on course.  Our utopias seem to be in sync with God's provision and we couldn't be happier - yet we find we aren't really living sacrificially.  Shouldn't the question arise that a Lord who spared nothing of himself and ask the same of his followers,  a Lord who states "owe nothing but to love" but then defines love as "laying down your life" - doesn't this beg the comparative between His true intent and our relatively risk free existence? 

When we find ourselves in this state we, like Abraham, will very often find ourselves at a crossroads where sacrifice is spoken into our hearts and a decision must be made.  Will we willingly name Him Lord over everything in our lives and be content if He truly does require it to bring us into a deeper eternal walk with Him or will we draw back and hold onto our known versions of security, our temporal definitions of prosperity?  This is a question that each of us must put to test on some level in each of our lives for there will always be areas or people that we cherish above all - even sometimes above Him.  It is in those times that we may find ourselves called to ultimate sacrifice in order to step into deeper eternal relationship and growth.  When that time comes, will you be willing to raise the blade?

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