Abraham and Me
by Susan Johnstone
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I’ve been thinking about Abraham.
You may remember that God promised Abraham many descendants and yet he grew old with his wife, childless, waiting for the promise to be fulfilled.* Over the years, he wondered if his slave Eliezer would be his heir, and his wife Sarah suggested that he father a child through her maidservant, Hagar. But to these options, God said ‘No.’
Finally, when Abraham was 100 years old, he and Sarah had a baby boy. They named him Isaac. He was truly a gift from God. So then why did God ask Abraham to offer his child as a sacrifice some years later? Apart from the issue of murder, God had given this child to Abraham to be the fulfilment of a promise.
Abraham followed instructions and took his son to Mount Moriah, to build an altar. A three-day journey would have given Abraham many moments of thought, wondering if he really had heard the voice of God correctly. He still went through with it. His son was tied and the sticks were ready to be lit for the fire when God stepped in at the last minute. Abraham had passed the test. A goat was provided for the sacrifice and Isaac was released.
Hebrews chapter 11, verses 17 – 19 says that Abraham had been prepared to follow God and kill his son, reasoning that God would be able to raise Isaac from death. In his faith, Abraham could see that things would still work out in the end. As it was, a resurrection wasn’t needed, and Abraham probably had lower blood pressure because of it.
I’ve been praying for the Holy Spirit to fill my life. This isn’t the sort of prayer you just do as you hop out of bed in the morning and trundle off to the toilet. This is a serious prayer – one that needs real thought about the implications it brings.
I want to be able to represent God more fully. I want to be more loving, more receptive to people’s needs, and more open to those little promptings that happen every day in the routine of life. I want to open up my larger plans to God also – my hopes and goals for the future.
One thing I have been thinking as a result of this praying, is how often we cruise through life, doing what we think is the right thing, following the formula of being a good Christian, obeying the law, making ethical decisions, raising children to love God, asking God for guidance, and so on. But what if God is trying to tell us something different? What if God is running in front of us, saying, Stop! Stop! You’re going the wrong way! I would hate to be oblivious to such a message.
So I realised that everything I do – even all the stuff that I think is ‘God’s will’ – I need to hand back to God regularly and say, Is this really what you want me to do? I need to be open to the idea that what I think is my calling from God, has to be surrendered also.
I love to write. I have been writing since I was a kid in primary school, and when I was at high school I told everyone I was going to be a writer. And now, 20 years later, I have been getting opportunities to publish articles. It is exciting. I can see things finally starting to happen in the way I hoped. At church I have the role of communications secretary. I am using this as a discipline in writing concisely and yet still being engaging. Meanwhile I have inspiration that I can put into short stories or articles that hopefully are encouraging to others, and I see this as a way I can minister while still taking care of my family and business responsibilities.
But even this should not be seen as my personal ‘gift’. It is God’s gift and not something for me to hang on to. If for some reason, God wanted me to stop writing and take up knitting blankets for orphans (and that thought really scares me!) I should be willing to say, Okay, I’ll do it!
I think maybe too many people cherish their comfy niche in life. They assume God has ordained their path, and wouldn’t think of changing. But perhaps if we hang on to our God-given talents and become proud of them, God will withdraw His blessing from us and we will be striving on our own. We must not become presumptuous and think that we know how God will work in our lives.
We must be ready to surrender everything, even our long hoped-for dreams, just like Abraham. God will make everything work out. We have to trust Him.
So I’m off to Mount Moriah, following Abraham’s footsteps. I’m taking my cherished hobbies and plans for the future, ready to stick them on the altar. How about you – are you willing to join us?
* You can read the story in Genesis, chapters 12, 15 – 18, and chapters 21, 22
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