Sunday, September 25, 2011

sacrificing isaac

I'm fascinated by the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham waited for years and years and years before God filled the promise that Abraham was most enthusiastic about getting. It was a righteous desire, and finally getting it taught him about patience, and miracles, and the value of an eternal family.

And yet, even after all that time, and all those rich lessons, God wasn't done with him yet. The one blessing in life that Abraham most cherished...a righteous desire...a gift that God had already given him, perhaps even a gift that Abraham had already earned. And God wanted him to give it back.

I've pondered the questions that Abraham might have asked at the time. Can't You take something else, Lord? Didn't You love me enough to give me Isaac to begin with? Didn't You want me to have posterity? What more can I possibly learn? What more could I possibly have to prove to You? How could this possibly be the best thing for us?

I prayerfully discovered what my "Isaac" is a few years ago. It's the person I'd become: independent, accomplished, tough. I turned to the Lord and told Him: if this is what You want, I will put myself on the altar. I will give away my strength, my competence, my autonomy. If it is Your will, I will let You take them away.

But Lord, can't You take something else? Didn't You love me enough to give me these survival skills to begin with? Didn't You want me to be courageous? What more can I possibly learn? What more could I possibly have to prove to You? How could this possibly be the best thing?

It has been the best thing, but oh, it's been a long road. I fell in unrequited love with someone who valued softness, gentleness, and vulnerability. I lost my positions of prestige, and lost the honors and financial stability that comes with them. I moved away from all the people I'd come to think of as my family, off in that little college town.

Yet, I never had to give up me. Who I am is defined by my clearest moments -- not my easiest or hardest ones. It's the moments that I best know God that I best know who I am. I am His.

I still don't find it easy to ask for help. I still wish I had a job that used my talents and compensated me accordingly. I still fight to maintain control.

But God is teaching me to be better, and is preparing me for the great work He has in store for me. He's been guiding me all along -- first to be tough, now to be tender. And like Abraham, I can have all the birthright blessings, as joint-heir with Christ.

And it's going to be wonderful.

1 comment:

  1. I think our "Isaac"s change throughout our lives. I continually think of that Joseph Smith quote: "a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation." I think this includes absolutely everything... we have to be willing to sacrifice our pride, our desires, the things we love, the things we feel make us "us." Otherwise, we are like the scripture in Isaiah that talks about people who try to "kindle their own sparks" rather than turning to the Lord.

    Every time that the Lord has asked me to give up something about who I am - and oh, let me tell you, it's happened a ton! - I've ended up liking His version of me better than my version of me. Though, of course, for me to say that sounds all blithe and easy, when in reality it's a difficult thing to do.