After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Genesis 22:1-2
A familiar story in the Bible. Abraham was willing to offer up his only son to God, even after God had promised Abraham he would be the father of nations. No wonder thousands of years later, Paul, in his letter to the Hebrews, described Abraham as a man of faith. But this story has special meaning to me because I, too, have one son, the only child I could bear. When he had gone off to college ten hours away, a wise lady in my church pulled me aside. Seeing the grief of separation in my heart, she told me that God knew what it is like to “give up a son”. That day, this passage in Genesis was one of the Bible readings in church. Don’t you love it when that happens? How often His revelations come that way – through Scripture and through the words of a godly friend. I realized (again) two things that day, through God’s grace.
The first is that God knows above all else what it is to love an only child. He gave up His only Son in sacrifice for me, because He loves me that much as well. The second is that God called me to offer up my only son in response. In other words, to put him in God’s hands. Like Abraham, I raised my son in the faith. I got him up and dressed and to church. We read Bible stories. I taught him how to pray. I tried to show him through my life what it is to have faith in God in all things, and when I failed, I hope I reflected God’s mercy. But there comes a time when we have to give our kids to God. In my son’s baptism, I watched that happen, yet a part of me still clung on – as it does in any mother – until he was grown and off on his own.
Yet even now, years later, I find I still have to offer him up to God in my heart. When he is facing a tough time so far away, or calls me that he has a bad cold and what should he take, or when he doesn’t call for days on end, I have to take all the worry that builds up in my heart and once again place it on the altar. I once asked my mom when she was in her early eighties, “When do you stop worrying about your kids?” She smiled and said, “I’ll let you know.” Maybe now that she is in Heaven, she has finally stopped. Perhaps, that is when I will as well.
Until then, may I be more like Abraham and give my son, my worries, my joys and my own life up to God knowing He will provide what is best. When Abraham did, God replied –
“. . . for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” (vs. 12)