“Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way,
for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”
Genesis 22:12 NLT
I’ve made a few minor sacrifices in my lifetime. I’ve given my last piece of candy to my husband because he didn’t have any left. I’ve eaten at restaurants I don’t like because someone else wanted to eat there. I’ve occasionally lost sleep to help someone in need. But that’s about it.
For the most part, I’m clueless about what it means to sacrifice. Abraham, on the other hand, understood sacrifice well. In Genesis 22, God told Abraham to sacrifice his son as a burnt offering. Imagine Abraham’s confusion. First, God promised him he would be the father of many nations (See Genesis 17). Then God told him to kill his only son. It wasn’t like he and Sarah had other kids to carry on his family line. Isaac was it. If Isaac died, there was no back-up plan. How was he supposed to father many nations without any children?
Abraham faced the most difficult decision of his life: his son or his God? From the looks of it, Abraham didn’t even hesitate. When God told him to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering, he woke up early the next morning and prepared to murder his son (Genesis 22:3). Abraham had never heard Jesus’ warning in Matthew 10:37—Anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me—but if he had, he would have been the first to obey. His God was more important than his children. Period.
I wish I could say the same. But in reality, my God doesn’t always come first. I don’t want to wake up early to spend time with Him, so I choose sleep. I don’t want to sacrifice my desires for my husband’s, so I choose myself. I don’t want to put God above my children, so I choose my sons.
It’s not a conscious decision, of course, to put myself and others before God. It just happens, little by little. My thoughts, rather than focusing on the Lord, focus on my kids. My time, rather than spending it for God, is spent on my own agenda. I live life for myself and for my family.
What God is asking of me, though, is to live life for Him, first and foremost. To sacrifice my dreams, my plans, and my agenda—for Him. God is asking me to think about Him more than I think about my children and to live for Him rather than to live for myself.
God chose us—above His one and only child. All He’s asking is for us to return the favor.
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Think of two practical steps you can take to keep God at the center of your life.
by Lindsey Bell
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Lindsey Bell is the author of Searching for Sanity: 52 Insights from the Parents of the Bible and a blogger at www.lindsey-bell.com. She’s also a stay-at-home mother of two, minister’s wife, and avid reader. Her passion is to inspire and encourage women through honest dialogue about her faith.