READ: Genesis 21-22
THINK: Understanding scripture can be incredibly difficult. There are times that we will read the Bible and it will bring up questions in our minds about who God is and what he stands for. Even the most brilliant theologians will always have questions. It’s okay to have questions. It’s okay to be confused.
There are many incredible principles that we can and should learn from Abraham’s obedience to God, but it also raises some questions in my mind that I can’t ignore. It’s pretty weird that God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. It seems out of character for God. It’s haunting to picture that series of events. It’s okay to confess our concerns to God and ask him for help in understanding his goodness in the midst of our doubt and confusion.
Best-selling author Ann Rice grew up a Christian, but turned away from her faith and began calling herself an atheist at age 18. In her fifties, Rice returned to faith through her intellect – after incredible historical research led her to realize the Bible is true. This is what Rice wrote about overcoming the doubts that kept her from faith in Christ in her book Called Out of Darkness…
He [God] knew how and why everything happened. He knew the disposition of every single soul. He wasn’t going to let anything happen by accident, nobody was going to Hell by mistake. This was His world. All of this. He had complete control of it. His justice, His mercy were not our justice or our mercy. What folly to even imagine such a thing. I didn’t have to know how he was going to save the unlettered and the unbaptized or how he would redeem the conscientious heathen who had never spoken His name. I didn’t have to know how my gay friends would find their way to redemption or how my hard-working secular, humanist friends could or would receive the power of His saving grace. I didn’t have to know why good people suffered agony or died in pain. He knew. And it was His knowing that overwhelmed me. His knowing that became completely real to me. And why should I remain apart from Him just because I couldn’t grasp all of this? He could grasp it.
I’ve been there and I have a feeling many of you have also – doubting God because I read, hear, or experience something that makes me question him. Rice’s perspective is an incredible reminder for me that I don’t have to understand everything – God does and that’s enough for me. How freeing is that? If you are remaining apart from God because you have unanswered questions about him, maybe its time to surrender that doubt to a God that is in complete control.
With that said, even though we can’t understand why God asked Abraham to take Isaac to the altar, we do know that He is sovereign and His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Abraham understood that. He did not hesitate to obey. He did not consult others. He did not question. He knew that God had spoken and that was enough to call him to obedience.
God calls us to bring to the altar anything in our lives that competes with Him for our hearts. For Abraham, that may have been Isaac. For us it could be a significant other, a hobby, an addiction. Trust that God is sovereign, and take it to the altar without delay.
Written by: Cari Widdel
ASK: Do I have doubts and questions that are keeping me from surrendering my life to Jesus? How does the quote from Ann Rice change my perspective? When I hear God speak clearly to me do I immediately obey as Abraham did or do I attempt to ignore God’s voice? What is God asking me to sacrifice so that I can know Him more completely?