Tested and Proven

I feel so out of touch with my bloggy world. I haven't had time to check on all my blog friends (most of whom I've never actually met), much less write on mine. My plate has been full, which is a good thing, but I have felt a little overwhelmed - mainly by my little slimy tadpole friends. My mind has been full of thoughts for blogging, but my schedule has not been full of the time to do so. As I type, I know I should be busy reassuring people that their tadpoles will one day come, but I just can't stay away from my blog any longer. I know all of my readers have been unable to go on with their lives, which are especially busy this time of year, because they've been glued to their computers waiting on a new entry, and I just can't do that to them any longer. Okay, so maybe that's a teeny tiny exaggeration. :)

While I've been away, I've been learning what it means to take up your cross DAILY and follow Christ. (Truth be told, that's what I'm always learning.) It's the daily part (which you probably guessed, since I capitalized it) that's tricky. One day I'm right on board with God and His plans. I'm focused, willing, and even almost excited. Then the next day, as I shared in my last post, I'm distracted, very unwilling, and extremely NOT excited. It really is a day by day, moment by moment decision to focus on the prize and keep running toward it. One glance to the side and I'm done for the day, the week, or even the month. It doesn't take much for the enemy to distract me. I'm weak, and I know it.

That's why I love people in the Bible. They have so many weak moments, but most of them finish the race well. One of my favorite people in all of Scripture is Abraham. God asked a lot of him, Abraham messed up a few times, God promised great blessing, and ultimately Abraham was proven faithful. If you think about it, Abraham didn't have a lot to go on when it came to his relationship with God. No Bible, no ever-present Holy Spirit, no church family to encourage him. He had some powerful yet brief and sporadic encounters with God, which were either communicating tough commands or promising big blessings. In the course of his walk with God, Abraham was told to leave his home and his extended family for a new, unnamed homeland, told to wait an unspecified amount of time for a son to be born to two old, infertile people, and told to perform a delicate, unpleasant surgery on himself and every other man associated with his family. He usually obeyed immediately, but sometimes he got impatient or scared and messed it up, much as we tend to do.

There is one command from God to Abraham, however, that really intrigues me. There is this one passage of Scripture that never fails to grip my heart and challenge me to the core. It is when Abraham is given what I'm sure is the hardest command God could have ever spoken to him. Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about." Talk about a tough command. Abraham is asked to kill his son that he waited so long to receive from God. The one who holds all the promises of God on his shoulders. It couldn't have made any sense to Abraham, and it had to have stopped him dead in his tracks when he heard God command it. Why would God ask Abraham to sacrifice the one thing through which God had promised He'd bring blessing to the whole world? Why would God have made Abraham and Sarah wait so long for a son only to kill him?

God knew it was a hard command. He called Isaac, "your son, your ONLY son, whom you love." It's not like God thought it would be easy. When God calls us to sacrifice, He knows and even intends for it to be tough. Despite the seemingly harsh command, Abraham doesn't hesitate. He gets up early the next morning and sets out. Don't you know the next three days were the hardest ones of Abraham's life? He spent three days traveling with his beloved son to the place where he would be asked to give him up completely. I can only imagine what he was thinking as they traveled all that way. Did he think of turning back? Did he try to come up with another way to satisfy God's demand? Did he wonder what in the world God could possibly be doing? Did he question God's love? Did he beg God to change His mind? No matter what he was thinking or what emotions were pulsing through his body, Abraham continued in obedience and faith. He spent three days letting go of his precious son, dying to him emotionally, just as Jesus spent three days in the grave. Three dark days.

Then the moment of truth arrives. This is where the rubber meets the road. Isaac carries the wood on which he will be sacrificed up the mountain, just as Christ carried his cross up to Calvary. Isaac briefly asks his father about the missing lamb for the sacrifice, but follows Abraham in trust as he tells his son that God will provide. As they arrive at the appointed place, Abraham binds his son and prepares to sacrifice him, just as God the Father put Jesus on the cross and gave Him up as a sacrifice. And Isaac must have allowed Abraham to do it, just as Christ willingly went to the cross. Isaac was a young, strapping lad and his father was an old man of 120 or so years. Isaac had to willingly lay down as a sacrifice, trusting both his earthly and heavenly fathers. Abraham takes the knife to slay his beloved son, with nothing to hope in and no one to turn to but God. And what happens in that moment? That terrifying, emotional, heart-rending moment? That moment of utter desperation? What else? God provides. God comes through. God Most High provides the sacrifice. Don't you know that was the most beautiful ram Abraham had ever laid eyes on? Isaac is resurrected, so to speak. Three days of death exchanged for one glorious moment of joy.

Abraham's faith was proven genuine. God was proven faithful. And the most beautiful and amazing part of it all was that God asked Abraham to do something unbelievably hard by our standards, but it wasn't something God wasn't willing to do Himself. When the moment came for Jesus to be slain and sacrificed, God didn't say, "Stop!" like He did to Abraham. He turned His back and let Jesus die. He provided the Lamb.

What do we take away from this? For me, it is another reminder (and I need them daily) that God asks us to sacrifice and suffer for Him, trusting Him through it all. And, in order for it to be a sacrifice, it must be something precious to us. Why? Because it is by suffering and sacrificing that we are made holy and our faith is proven to be real. It is by suffering and sacrificing that we learn to trust Him and show His faithfulness, love, and goodness to the world. But it's a reminder of something else as well...God will not ask us to sacrifice something that Jesus hasn't already sacrificed for us. So as I daily take up my cross of sacrifice and suffering, I truly am following Him, for it is a path He has already walked. He knows it well. And it is a path of hope, for it leads to glory. Abraham's faith was proven to be genuine. God was proven faithful. Will you allow your faith to be tested? Will it be proven genuine? Do you believe God is faithful? Take up your cross and see how God provides through your sacrifice.


  1. GOOD ONE! GOOD ONE! GOOD ONE!! I loved this entry Amy and I can identify with it so well. Sometimes I even look for distractions even though I know it won't fill me up. The Lord does want us to give up something precious to us. If it isn't something dear to our hearts than it doesn't count! It's like when I gave up coffee for lent one year and I maybe drink 2 cups of coffee per year. What a sacrifice huh? It has to be something you need to replace with God. :-) I can go on with my life now.


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