Have you ever felt that God was asking too much of you? Consider for a moment what would be too much? Our daily lives are built around people and things we enjoy: a spouse, children, friends, a job, a hobby, possessions, and future plans. These are the pillars and beams of our earthly support system; and if one of them is removed, we sometimes feel as though the framework of our lives is collapsing around us. But there are times when God says “Let go!” and the nuts and bolts that hold our world together suddenly snap. If you’ve ever been in that situation you know the pressure a test like that can exert on your faith. Every time God challenges you it is an opportunity for you to shine and advance to another spiritual grade level. This ought to excite you. Even if spiritual tests are difficult, they have a wonderful purpose: to make you more like Christ so the world can see God’s greatness revealed in you. Abraham was well acquainted with such strenuous tests. James 2:22 lets us know that God was testing Abraham so his faith could be “perfected” before men. The word “perfect” means complete or mature. Persevering through tests and being obedient to God made Abraham’s faith visible to an on looking world. God tested Abraham in order to give him an opportunity to display his true character. Keep in mind that Abraham had walked with God for about 35 years before God tested him in this most severe way. God did not give him this severe test until He knew Abraham was equipped for it. One of the great things about God is that He does not give us tests we cannot pass. His tests come when we are prepared. Furthermore, according to 1Corinthians 10:13; He supplies an extra measure of grace to help us through times of testing. God is not like some of our former teachers who gave us premature tests or “pop” quizzes on information they had never covered in lectures. He is gracious and faithful. He wants for us to receive the highest grade possible! We are told from the very first verse in Genesis 22 that Abraham will be tested. Notice when God calls Abraham’s name, Abraham responds with, “Here I am.” He was willing to hear from God and be moved to action. Obedience and discipleship demand that you be a person who is faithful, available and teachable. Sometimes people and things can become too important to us. We grip them with closed fists and tight knuckles, so God has to pry open our fingers to loosen our hold. Listen;there will be times in your life when obedience will not make sense. Are you prepared to obey God even in these cases? I confess there are many things in the Bible that I wish were not there—life would be easier. I could blend in better with our culture. But the real test of surrender isn’t when I obey commands I like. If I say to my grandchildren, “Eat your ice cream,” that is not a good test of how well they obey me. The true test is when I ask them to do something difficult. If God is calling you to something difficult today, will you say, “Here I am?” Will you obey? If God is calling you to let go of something today, will you? Abraham’s test intensifies in Genesis 22:6-8 when he has to take the wood of the burnt offering and lay it on his son. As Abraham and Isaac are trekking along, it dawns on Isaac that the most important element is missing. So Isaac finally breaks the silence and speaks to his dad: “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” I can’t imagine what went through Abraham’s mind when Isaac asked that question? Rather, Abraham replied, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” In essence, what he was saying is, “Let’s let God take care of it.” My Friend, I want to come to the place in my own life where I can confidently say, “God is big enough to take care of me.” If I’m faithful to obey Him in all He asks of me, He will provide for me all that I need! Beloved, the only way this kind of obedience can be pulled off is by walking with God and knowing His heart. In 22:9-10, we see that Abraham’s obedience was thorough and complete. Notice, the whole procedure is drawn out like a slow-motion replay. It has taken three days to get to Moriah. Once Abraham finally arrives, he has to climb Mount Moriah. Then he has to build the altar, arrange the wood, bind his son, lay him on the altar, stretch out his hand, and take the knife to slay him. Now, let’s be very clear, on my best spiritual day, I probably would have had faith to build the altar but not to kill. Abraham did everything yet heaven remained silent. I’m sure as he raised that knife, every bone in his body must have wanted to disobey. But if Abraham had not raised the knife he would not have heard from God. Did you catch that? It took raising the knife of obedience with intent to kill (that’s commitment), and then Abraham heard from God. Many of us may be willing to lay something on the altar but when we do we take along a rubber knife. Yet, our obedience is not complete if there are some strings attached. One thing is very clear: Abraham could not have offered Isaac without Isaac’s consent and cooperation. Apparently, Isaac had decided to obey his father whatever the cost, just as his father had decided to obey God whatever the cost. At this point in our story it is often our tendency to object to God’s demands. We wonder why God wants such sacrifice from us. Remember, total obedience is not only measured by what you give God; God also takes into account what you keep for yourself. Can God get close to the most important things in your life: your possessions, business, plans and dreams, and relationships? Are you willing to let go? Sometimes the supreme test of our faith will be a matter of putting obedience to God above something we have lived for all of our lives. Sometimes it will involve something that might to everyone else seem foolish and ridiculous. Are you willing to be sacrificially obedient to God in every area of your life? When we obey God fully we can trust that He is looking farther ahead than we are; and He is already taking care our future needs. Are you at the brink of despair, thinking that you cannot bear another day of testing? As difficult as it may be for you to believe this today, the Master knows what He’s doing. Our Savior knows our breaking point. The process is designed to reshape us, not ruin us. Our value is increasing the longer He lingers over us. I’m convinced that God wants you and me to hold people, things, and dreams loosely. To help us in this pursuit, He uses tests. He will test our obedience and our commitment. If we pass His tests, He will bless our lives.
Let’s pray: “Heavenly Father, I place my life in Your hands. In this moment, I let go of all thoughts and concerns. I let go of problems and challenges in order to receive your guidance and clarity. Help me not to struggle but to surrender my struggle to you. Thank You for the truth that Your grace is sufficient and help me to truly apply this in my life from this day forward. In Jesus name I pray, Amen!”