So this past week, I took my only son to college, and dropped him off for a new adventure. And as proud as I am of him, the separation is heart-wrenching.
This morning the Bible opened to the story of Abraham and Isaac:
Then God said: Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There offer him up as a burnt offering on one of the heights that I will point out to you. Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey, took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac, and after cutting the wood for the burnt offering, set out for the place of which God had told him.
On the third day Abraham caught sight of the place from a distance. Abraham said to his servants: “Stay here with the donkey, while the boy and I go on over there. We will worship and then come back to you.” So Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two walked on together, Isaac spoke to his father Abraham. “Father!” he said. “Here I am,” he replied. Isaac continued, “Here are the fire and the wood, but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” “My son,” Abraham answered, “God will provide the sheep for the burnt offering.” Then the two walked on together.
When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. Next he bound his son Isaac, and put him on top of the wood on the altar. Then Abraham reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, “Abraham, Abraham!” “Here I am,” he answered. “Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the angel. “Do not do the least thing to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you did not withhold from me your son, your only one.”
This story challenges me, even more so this week. This is faith. This is putting God before all else. Do I have the will and desire to put God before all else? I like to think I do but my actions rarely carry this out. Could I have done what Abraham did? I feel pretty strongly that as much as I would like to say yes, the answer is no. It was hard enough just to drop my son off at college. Thankfully, God has not tested me in this way. Probably because I don’t pass the much smaller tests. All too frequently I fail to put God before work, before social media, before my favorite TV show, before sleep, before whatever it is I want to do. I blame the lack of time, the busy world, the need to be there for others. After all, the world is exhausting. These seem like good excuses, don’t they? Of course, they are not. Especially since God promises us the rest that we need:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
Matthew 11: 28-30
Why then do I let the world get in the way of what I need. Why do I let it stop me from coming to God, putting Him first. The only answer is a lack of faith, a lack of patience and a lack of a willingness to sacrifice. I know God is the answer. I know He will provide. I know that it is only through Him that I will find rest and peace. But my senses are bombarded with the worldly promises of happiness, which never quite come true. I don’t want to give up what I want. I don’t like to sacrifice. I am stuck in the world and mindset of “I want it now” and if I can’t get what I want now, I will settle for what seems like the next best thing. This is what keeps me from having the faith of Abraham. And as I say it out loud, I know how stupid it sounds, how childish it sounds, and I pray, as my son heads off on his own, that he has not learned this from me.
I know that you are everything, everything that I want, everything that I need. I want the faith of Abraham. I want to put you first above all else, but I am struggling. Help me, Lord. I am burdened and weary. Fill me with your love and your peace. Fill me with your strength so I can resist the temptations of what seems easy. Give me the patience and faith when I cannot see you or feel you to not settle for something else. I love my son and I miss him dearly, but I love and miss you more. Pull me back into your arms, so that I may do your will and stop worrying about my own. (And please provide the same for my son as he begins to embark on his own in this world of distraction).