I was reading Genesis 22 this morning. About Abraham being commanded by God to sacrifice his son. Whenever I had read that in the past I always felt in awe of Abraham’s obedience to God and wondered if I could have done the same. But I dug a little deeper and I read again and I prayed for understanding and friends, I believe I have been missing a very important part of this entire story.
Take a look at the first part of this chapter with me.
1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
Verse 1, God calls to Abraham. God knew where Abraham was, He had not lost him but this entire chapter is about being obedient from beginning to end, and so from the beginning God gave Abraham the choice to answer Him. How many times do we hear God say our name, try to get our attention, and we ignore it, go on about our day, shrug it off? God wants our obedience to come out of our choice.
Verse 2, God commands Abraham to take his son to be sacrificed as a burnt offering. God knew it was Abraham’s only son, He had given Him Isaac in the first place. God knew that Abraham loved his son and still he asked for the ultimate sacrifice.
And here, for me, this is what I want.
“Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey.” (Genesis 22:3)
He didn’t wait, “God are you sure?” He didn’t debate. He didn’t put it off. The NEXT MORNING. He didn’t wait to make sure. He didn’t try to negotiate with God. As a teenager God was more like a genie in a bottle instead of my heavenly Father. I would negotiate, “God if you would just _____ then I will be nice to my brother, never tell a lie, never ______.” Newsflash, God is not a genie in a bottle, just in case you were wondering.
Back to the story…
Abraham trusted God no matter what but Abraham also knew that God was more. God loved Abraham. God understood how Abraham felt about his son. But Abraham also loved God and he had faith that both he and Isaac would return from the mountain.
Look at what Abraham says to his servants. “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then WE will come back to you.’
Again this is shown when Isaac asks his father where the lamb was for the sacrifice. Abraham tells him, “God himself will provide the lamb…”
Imagine every step Abraham is taking up the mountain not only is his heart heavy with what he has been instructed to do, but he has to climb a mountain as well. Every step he takes over the rocks and dirt taking him higher and higher. Hearing his son’s voice, watching him take each step beside him, soaking up every minute because even though he loves Isaac, Abraham loves God more.
Abraham had a “whatever it takes’ mentality. We don’t offer burning sacrifices to God now; the ultimate sacrifice was given 2000 years ago when God gave His son as the ultimate sacrifice. Abraham was speaking prophetically when he said that God would provide the lamb. And by the way, Isaac carried the wood, as Jesus carried the cross when He made the ultimate sacrifice.
Whatever it takes.
Do I have that mindset? Am I willing to listen and act immediately on direction from God? Do I have the relationship with God like Abraham did that when He calls my name, I know hear it and respond immediately, “Here I am.”
And whatever He asks, the nudge to buy a cup of coffee for a perfect stranger, as simple as speaking to that girl across the room, buying a meal for a family, giving sacrificially, volunteering to help out at church, to the more radical, doing mission work, traveling around the world, whatever it takes but being obedient.
Each nudge, no matter how small, is like a post-it note from God to His children letting them know that He loves them and that He’s there. And by being willing to do “whatever it takes” you get to be a part of God working in the lives of others and in turn He will be working even more in your life. The reward you get is better then any three wishes from a genie in a bottle.
It starts with a cup of coffee (or tea if your fasting) but the more you listen, the more you hear and as long as you know your answer will be “whatever it takes God” then the life you lives can be a glorious walk with your Heavenly Father doing whatever it takes.
If you want to find out what happened to Abraham and Isaac, check out Genesis, chapter 22.
One of the ways I have been caught off guard in this fast is the non-stop obsession with food. Maybe that’s just me but the fact that I cannot have certain things crops up a lot. The reason for fasting is very apparent because when you deny the body something the body will remind you of it constantly (king stomach). The secret though is to take that thought and turn it to God and the things that you are praying about.
I have felt constantly hungry (head hunger) but I know that it’s all “king stomach” wanting my attention. The caffeine withdraw is gone and I certainly have plenty of food to eat. (This is what I picture every time I hear king stomach. yes, he freaks me out too.)
Martha encouraged the church to at least do the last 3 days of the fast but she did mention that those are usually the hardest and to try for 5 instead. I didn’t hear much from God in those first few days because my body was in such shock that I was just trying to wade through the fasting brain. So if you are wanting to fast and have never done it before, might I strongly reiterate what Martha said and that you fast the last five days. That way you can push through the headache and body shock and come out on the other side before it’s time to go back to pizza, sushi and fried chicken and coffee.
I have had a couple of ah-ha moments though in the past week. There is a lot of talk about what we are missed eating, what we can’t wait to eat after the fast, and there just seemed to be an enormous focus on the food. I have become hyper aware of the amount of food related activities, promotion, commercials, websites, books, etc. surround us daily. It’s almost like food has become it’s own idol in our lives, ranking right up there with money, sex, and beauty. Food has it’s own industry and it’s own language and it’s own culture.
I had to push beyond the food cravings to get to the other side in order to pray and speak to my heavenly Father because I do love God more than coffee, more than chocolate and more than chicken (hey, my own C3, lol). I have learned so much and am anxious to see what the next 11 days will bring as I lean in to hear from God and take God out of the box and put my appetite into one. A very small box. I want the cravings that I have for things of this world to be transformed into a craving for a closer relationship with my heavenly Father. To crave, to want, to desire to be closer with Him. I pray that is one hunger that never gets satisfied but that I constantly feed. Lean in my friends, His word are sweet and filling.
If you are coming over from Martha’s blog welcome! We are on day 9 of our 21 day journey and I am excited about the next 12 days.
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body,” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
I wrote on Martha’s blog today about the fact that the fast is like cleaning house, getting rid of a lot of the junk in our temple. The New Testament talks about our bodies being the temple of the Holy Spirit. When we accept Christ as our Savior the Holy Spirit comes and resides in us. I felt that I needed to dig a little deeper and share a bit more about my own struggles with my temple. It’s all about being honest and real, and I made a promise to God, myself and my readers (hi mom) when I started this journey with my writing that I would also be honest, no matter what. The world is full of people that want others to think they have it all figured out but that’s not me. But I know who does and He is who this blog is for, to share with people that no matter what we have done or mistake we have made, God loves us, God forgives, and God wants to be the center of our life, He even gave us a temple so that He could live IN us. So, read on for the rest of the story…
I, like many others, have not honored my body. I have not taken care of it like I should have. I have smoked. I have been obese. I have not exercised. I have dishonored the temple. No wonder there have been so many times I have felt a disconnect with my heavenly Father.
I smoked for many years and felt convicted over and over again that I needed to quit. Finally, in my quiet time one day, I asked God to please fill me with the Holy Spirit. I felt God telling me, “Sweetheart, the Holy Spirit doesn’t smoke.” Ouch. It’s a gross habit and one that I am ashamed of. I do not want anything to keep me from walking as close to God as possible, so the cigarettes are gone and the temple is beginning to smell better and I’m not choking out the Holy Spirit.
My body was also abused due to my being overweight. This is a picture from a show I did a few years ago. ——>
I looked to food for comfort, and I ate when I was stressed, I ate when I was happy or celebrating something, and honestly, I just really enjoy eating. I made a decision three years ago to undergo surgery. The morning I went in for surgery I weighed 287 pounds. This isn’t a post about the good or bad of weight loss surgery, we can come back to that on another day. I was in pain from the extra 130+ pounds I was carrying. Go to the store, pick up two 50-pound bags of dog food and another 30-pound bag and carry that around for a few minutes. God knew I would not be able to obey His direction until the weight was gone. I had tried many different diets and eating plans and some had worked but I had never been able to keep the weight off. For me, surgery was great and I’m thankful I had it done.
We have to clean out the temple, our bodies, and make them as healthy as possible so that God can use us.
God cannot use me if I’m too exhausted to speak. God cannot use me if I’m unhealthy. God cannot use me if I am going to be depending on something else, such as food or cigarettes, for my comfort instead of Him.
<—— Me now. Looking back now it felt like I was buried in fat. I couldn’t be who God wanted me to be, I couldn’t be real, I couldn’t be honest and so I kept my mouth shut by putting food in it or by puffing on a cigarette.
I am not getting on my high horse about overeating or smoking, all I am saying is, for me, I had to get the junk out of my body in order to fill it up with God’s best. God wants me to have His best every single day. Satan wants me to crowd it out with a cigarette when I’m stressed or an entire bag of double stuff Oreos when my feelings get hurt.
God wants me to come to Him when I’m stressed or worried and rest in His promise to provide for me. God wants me to focus on pleasing Him and not get upset or my feelings hurt by what others think.
Who am I living for, God or man? (Thanks Pastor Matt).
During the fast we have an opportunity to clean out the temple. To purge the body of all it’s impurities. To let go of things that we are using that comes between us and our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Have you given up whatever it is that is keeping you separated from the Heavenly Father? Is the need to have a relationship with Him more important then the relationship you are having with your refrigerator or with the Marlboro Man (no reference to Pioneer Woman’s husband)?
Open the door and the windows to your soul, get the junk out and make room for the Holy Spirit to reside in a sweet smelling, healthy, and energetic you. Honor God with your body.
You are an amazing and forgiving Father who wants nothing but the best for all of His children. Help us each to make our bodies into the temples that are worthy of your presence so that we may follow Your leading and live the life You wish for us. I pray for each person that is on a journey to clean out their temple and create a home for You. Amen.
If there is something I can pray for you about please leave a comment or email me at leigh at leighfrance dot com.