Father and Son

I have always loved the story of Abraham and Isaac. The story of willingness and sacrifice and reprieve and provision, captivate me. After all, isn’t that ultimately the journey of every faithwalker? But this week God challenged me to reread it, in His narration, with His thoughts, through His eyes and, most of all, in regard to His heart for His beloved.

Abraham was ready, I felt sure of it. Patiently, he had waited for Me to send Isaac, and daily I watched his love for his son and pride over him grow. I delighted to see that My friend was pleased, but much rode on the faith of My beloved Abraham, a faith that I had to test for its surety and steadfastness.

He was out observing My creation, strolling among his people, eyes always trained upon his boy. He marveled aloud to Me as he watched Isaac pull back the bow how very grateful he was over the gift of his son. It was in that moment of thankfulness I chose to make My request, in the glow of his joy.

“Abraham!” I called.

Immediately he answered, “Yes, Lord! I am here.” The look on his face was eager to speak, eager to obey, age had not changed his youthful expectation, but I had the highest price to ask of him.

“It’s time,” I commanded. He seemed confused so I continued, “Take your only son, Isaac, now and go to Moriah…” I waited to finish as his smile hesitated, “…and take him and offer him…”

Abraham’s eyes took on a look of disbelief even as his soul screamed out to My heart not to finish the thought, but his obedient heart waited for Me to finish.

“Offer his as a burnt offering on the mountain of My choosing.”

His head fell, his grown man lips quivered, but his resolve was not shaken. He trusted Me. I felt it and I read it from his heart even if his lips could not utter it.

I watched the next morning, early, as he loaded up his donkey and assembled his entourage, Isaac, the most prized possession by his side as he led the way. Each day was a litany of praise to Me, stories of my goodness and faithfulness shared with each footstep closer to the unspeakable. Isaac never seemed to question Abraham’s frequent affections and head rubs. Abraham was making the most of the three days, three days I ordained for them to say goodbye. I’m a loving God, I could have chosen any mountain, but that one had significance to this sacrifice and to My own, and I wanted this for them.

When they made it there I observed intently as Abraham settled his servants and gave them directions and a time frame in which he would return. I watched as he swallowed hard while Isaac said his goodbyes. Then, I watched as Abraham placed the bundle of wood upon Isaac’s shoulders. As he did so, I felt the scars in My own back ache.

“This is necessary,” I whispered into the ear of My beloved, but all he felt and heard was the whistle of the wind.

In his own hands, Abraham carried the fire source and the knife. His grip on its handle was weak almost begging the slightest force to rip it from his hands, but his obedience carried it nonetheless. Isaac wondered often as he observed the elements of sacrifice that a significant piece was missing – the offering. He questioned his father, but he could not bear to tell his son and so I heard him say with spoken words, “God Himself will provide.” He had no idea the revelation of those words. I could feel the cries from Abraham’s bosom asking if there was any other way? And, My own voice echoed through the ages in his acceptance, “Nevertheless, let Your will be done.” Years evaporated and generations passed away as I beheld Abraham telling Isaac to be still as he bound his only son. I watched Isaac struggle and question, begging for understanding. Abraham was silent but in his heart he called out to Me declaring My name for all generations and with each name a work of goodness that preceded it. He, like his son, was begging Me to hear his cries, and I, too, remained silent. Would he recall My favor thus far? The promises I had made? The nature of My faithfulness?

I observed the Accuser reminding him of his failures, of his sins, planting doubts of My character and My affections for him. But, I encouraged Abraham to recall My love, My grace, My kindness despite what wrongs he had committed. As the Accuser started in again, I held up My hand to silence him. I tired of his lies, his attempts to discredit Me and to discourage those I love. Besides, something greater had My complete attention, Abraham reached for the knife.

All eyes in heaven stood in observance of this moment. I had issued a command, and only I could choose to undo it. A tear escaped My eternal eyes as I watched my beloved hold the knife high. Faith that once trembled from his lips now held firm in his love for Me. My heart was full! Abraham was declaring his love for Me! I had asked him to do the unthinkable, and still he chose My will over his own. Time stood still as I observed this gift. – the love he showed Me as he held a knife to his son – his beloved as he was Mine.

“Abraham!”

He didn’t drop the knife, “Yes, Lord?” Determination shook his frame.

“Stop! His arm slowly dropped its position, confusion, quickly replaced with relief, washed over him.

“Don’t touch that boy!” All of heaven was rejoicing in his love for Me! “You have shown you honor and respect Me! You were willing to sacrifice, without holding back, your son, your heir.”

I had situated the ram – spotless and pure – a most fitting offering – in the bushes beside their makeshift altar. I caught My breath as Abraham quickly unbound Isaac, clutching him to his chest and thanking Me for My provision. Together, they situated the sacrifice on the pile of wood. I touched the engravings in My hands, the scars that symbolized the name of every soul willing to be saved, and I smiled.

“ No, my friend, my beloved. I would never ask you to give up anything that I haven’t already sacrificed for you.”

Heads bowed, knees bent, I listened as father and son praised My name for their provision, but what I had truly provided was more than a ram but the Lamb of God – for with the sacrifice of MY son, I would fulfill My promise to Abraham, for I AM Jehovah Jireh. I AM the Lord who provides.

A Bird in the Hand

“…And you count far more to him than birds.”

God gave me a very real lesson this weekend, a moment that captivated my heart and my attention and spoke life into a hard and trying time.

The story:
My friend and I were sitting at a local restaurant. We were talking about some of the hardship that I had just faced, the attack of the enemy with an arrow trained directly at my heart and my past. Actually we were both sharing, about our faith and our trust despite the accusations that others might want to level at us. It was in that moment of serious honesty and transparency that something hit the window.

I flinched. She noticed, and wondered what it was. Then I saw it the little bird outside the window, heaving for breath and looking so tiny and vulnerable under a chair of a young girl that was completely unaware that her foot may just take a life. I looked at my friend and she looked at me. “It’s a hummingbird,” she announced. I didn’t believe it. To me it was just a baby. But she was sure, “It’s a hummingbird. Look at the beak.” She was right. Then, she said what I knew in my heart, “We have to go out there and rescue it!” She ran for one last refill, and I ran outside to see what I could do.

I ran out and told the girls sitting at the table, “There is a bird there. We have to rescue it!” At first they looked at me like I was crazy. It was, after all, a bird. We stooped down and picked it up and my friend, Dionne, took him in her hands. She stroked its chest and silently we both prayed and willed that bird to find its wings. You could tell it was stunned. It was blinking its little eyes rapidly and trying, it seemed, to get its bearings.

I marveled at the moment, here was this most beautiful green hummingbird completely still in the hand! I announced the miracle of this to the girls whose table we’d invaded as Dionne looked on the verge of tears. Something, no EVERYTHING, in me told me that I had to capture this moment. So I did. At this point the girls were interested, a stilled hummingbird, “I want a picture, too!” And the bird was still just long enough. The pictures were taken, and with one small, fast (after all it was a hummingbird) flit of its wings, it flew off.

The rest of the story:
That amazing moment, though so short, spoke volumes very specifically and intimately to both of us. To Dionne, it was a moment of captivating love lavished on her from Daddy God to say “I see, I know, I hold you…” and so many other personal messages of love and hope that only she can interpret.

To me it was lesson. It’s like Daddy God said, “I know that you have been stunned. I know that you are hurt and you feel that your pain came out of nowhere. But, like this little bird there are two choices: You can stay on the ground and struggle to breathe and possibly find yourself trampled under the weight of it. Or, you can let Me pick you up, remind you of your purpose and My purpose in you. Open yourself to love again and be loved, and find the wings to soar once more.”

Is that you? Are you stunned, finding yourself hurting from an injury you never saw coming maybe from those you least expected? Take heart. If God cared so much for this errant bird (one of the tiniest that you can find!), how much more does He care for you! Let our story be your hope. And, it’s no surprise that upon further research and the input of others more acquainted with birds… our friend is thought to be female. Well, of course she was. 😉

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For the LOVE of us

I was listening to a discussion last week in which someone said, “God didn’t create us for any other purpose but to worship and glorify Him.” I knew where they were coming from when they said that, but, as I thought about it, I had to disagree. You see, what most theologians shy away from talking about and what pastors don’t really chance to say is this: Our God is vulnerable. Yes, He is mighty and He is infinite and He is Life and He is Truth. He withstands the passage of time. He has always been, will always be, and is yet to come, but He has deep, emotional longings, and those longings culminated in us.

When God created the earth, He had a plan. He already had angels, they were His worshippers, His Yes men, His go to guys…or spirits…we aren’t sure if they actually have a gender. If worship was what He was looking for, He had it in mass and in surround sound! No. There was something else God desired in man. He longed for companionship…He wanted a heart that loved Him, that sought Him, that wanted Him, not because it was created to or had to, but because it chose to. Therein lies the heart of God for man.

We cannot forget this, because God is still moved by the heart of man. He still desires companionship, He longs for connection, and He seeks those that will worship Him whole-heartedly. It is this vulnerability that makes me love Him more. It should make us all love Him more…to know that the God of the universes isn’t content to simply make us but that with each stitch of bone and marrow, He planned a life with Himself!

This is why it is important that we know our worth. This is why it is important that we feel His love. This is why He takes every day of our lives to remind us that we are not a mistake, we were not created in vain; we are chosen, we are loved, and we are His. He wants us to know…not just think, suspect, or assume…but KNOW that we are loved. Not so that we feel good about ourselves, not to stroke our egos, or give us a God-complex, but because He longs for us to accept His love! He reassures us so that we will feel good about Him! He desire’s for us to live in that truth so that we can boldly speak the power of His great LOVE to all that will listen…because then THAT person will choose to love Him, and His vulnerable heart is filled yet again, and His quiver is that much fuller, and His Son’s purpose is fulfilled.

Jesus died, for the love of us, and it is because of that same amazing love that God created. Don’t mistake Him for a tyrannical celestial King, He is our Ever-present loving Father…seeking all that, like Him, long to be loved.