Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him
If you are a parent, then you have experienced it. The paralyzing fear that something will happen to this little person that you love so much. That all your love, your energy spent raising them, the precautions you take to preserve their life and safety, will come to naught. That one terrifying, cataclysmic accident will suddenly steal that precious one away. This fear gnaws at my mind. It haunts my sleep. It makes adrenaline spike when I am driving my car. It makes me feel so… helpless.
I have heard these fears echoed by my friends. I see it over and over again in online parenting communities, blog posts, Facebook comments. The fear can be terrorizing. I put bumpers on my crib… could my baby suffocate? I didn’t put bumpers on my crib, could my baby get stuck in the crib slats? You wake up in the middle of the night, needing to check and see if they are still breathing, if their tiny hearts are still beating.
How can we as parents survive the terror? What can we tell ourselves so that we are finally able to let go of the fear, get a full night’s sleep again? For me, the issue boils down to trust. How can I trust that my little ones will be safe when daily, I see evidence to the opposite? This world is teeming with stories of horrors, of terrible accidents, famine, and pain. And yet, the God we serve purports to be good. I find myself able to trust his goodness when placing my own life in His hands, yet when it comes to my children, I doubt. I fear. I find myself unwilling for them to go through pain and heartache, even if I know that it is, in the end, redemptive.
I find a kind of perverse comfort in the story of Abraham and Isaac. Here is Isaac, a strong, beautiful boy. A child of God’s promise. A living covenant. And yet, God is asking Abraham to go and sacrifice him. How? Why? It seems so harsh, so horrible. Yes, God provides in the end, but imagine the anguish of each step taken up Mount Moriah, the tension of living in the doubt, the fear, the horror of the task ahead of you. God provided a ram, but Abraham still made a sacrifice. On that mountain, Abraham’s ownership over Isaac’s life was offered up. His dreams for his son, his sense of control over Isaac’s future, were laid upon the altar. They remained there, to be sacrificed along with the goat.
When I find myself in a crisis of trust, when I am not sure I trust God to sustain the lives of my children, when I doubt the path God is leading them down, I find solace in this passage. I do not own the lives of my children. It is not my white knuckled decisions that will determine the course of their lives, ensure their safety. Instead, that belongs to my Father. I must sacrifice my dreams, my sense of control, and allow God to provide for them. It is the scariest peace I have ever experienced. But it is a necessary one. A dubious grace, that refines me even as I surrender to it.
Have you allowed God to reign in the ‘Isaac moments’ of your life?