Friday, December 25, 2009

You Don't Have to Like It, You Just Have to Do It

Does God ever ask us to do things we really don't want to do? I don't know about you, but it seems like there are a lot of times that God tells me to do stuff, that without Him telling me, I would probably never do. So I think it's a pretty safe bet to say that God WILL ask us to do stuff we don't want to do. Maybe a better question is, Do we have to like everything God tells us to do? I was talking with a friend the other day about this (I'd give him a blog mention, but he still blogs on myspace. I thought they actually shut down myspace or that it got hacked and turned into a recipe sharing site, but he insists it is still functional as a social networking site.) Anyway, while talking about this, he mentioned God commanding Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.

If you're not familiar, God promised Abraham, when he was 99 years old, that he would be the father of many nations and that his descendants would number that of the stars in the sky. At this point in his life, Abraham had no sons. But God fulfilled that promise through Abraham's son, Isaac. Isaac was the hope and beginning of the entire Israelite nation. Many years later God commanded Abraham to take Isaac and sacrifice him as a burnt offering. Now, God did not actually want Abraham to sacrifice his son, it was a test of faith, but Abraham did not know this. Abraham had faith that God would take care of the situation and that God knew what He was doing. If Isaac was God's fulfillment of the promise to make Abraham the father of many nations, surely He would take care of this. But...imagine just for a second what Abraham must have been thinking. Not only was Isaac the way that God would fulfill His promise, but he was Abraham's son. It was his son, his only son and he loved him. In Genesis 22:2 God even acknowledges Abraham's love for Isaac by saying, “"Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love...”

Imagine the pain and frustration that Abraham must have been experiencing as he traveled, with Isaac, to the place of the offering, as he led Isaac up the mountain, as he bound his son (whom he loved) and placed him on the alter and finally as he raised the knife to offer his son to the Lord. I can barely comprehend the excruciating agony in all those tasks. How much anger, sadness, hurt, confusion did he carry? I' sure that he did not like or agree with what God had commanded him to do. Regardless of how he felt, Abraham did it. He was obedient to God. Now, he didn't actually sacrifice his son, but he went as God commanded. The Bible doesn't record whether he struggled with what God commanded of him, it simply says, “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.” (Gen 22:3) There is nothing written between God's commandment in verse 2 and Abraham's action in verse 3. Abraham just simply obeyed God, whether he liked it or understood it or not.

I don't think God expects us to be excited about everything He requires of us, but He does expect us to be fully obedient to everything He commands. Will we fall short? Of course we will, but we should desire to get to a point that when we hear the promptings and direction of the Holy Spirit, we obey them. Obedience is how we express our love to God. Being obedient in the things we desire is easy, real obedience is found in the things we don't understand or like. That is where God grows us and accomplishes God size stuff.