Sacrifice. I don’t know about you but that word just makes me grimace and squirm a little. It’s never fun or easy to give up something we really love. If we’re being honest, major sacrifice is one of those things God shows us is His character to request, Jesus tells us we need to do, and we think He’all never ask of us. I’ve heard, and said, these words, “God wouldn’t ask me to give that up.” Truth is, He might.
Abraham, dear Abraham. What an example of living by faith in the face of major sacrifice. Here he finally has his son Isaac by his wife Sarah. A promise fulfilled that in all honesty they never thought would actually happen. Isaac IS the promise for Abraham and all of the generations coming. I’m certain each day is a day of worship and praise at just hearing Isaac breathe. And then He hears God ask him to do the unthinkable.
Sacrifice Isaac. “…offer him as a burnt offering…” (Genesis 22:2). Can you even imagine that conversation between God and Abraham? Oh how I wish the Bible elaborated just a little more on what was going through Abraham’s heart and mind. I would have been so angry and confused at the mere suggestion. How dare God ask such a huge sacrifice! Doesn’t God understand who Isaac is? Doesn’t God understand what it means to be a father? My sanctified imagination pictures Abraham pacing back and forth, arms flailing about and hot tears running down his face as he had to face what it means to live by faith.
Genesis 22:8 gives us the glimpse into the heart of Abraham. As Isaac is walking with his dad, clearly feeling confused about what they are going to sacrifice, Abraham says “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering,”. Abraham is fully committed to sacrificing his son to follow God and he knows that no matter what, God is going provide all that is needed for the moment. Hebrews 11:10 tells us “He considered the God was able to even raise him from the dead,”. Wow! I want this faith, faith that is going to follow God no matter what believing fully that He is providing all that is needed.
Jesus also talked about sacrifice. Jesus himself was the ultimate sacrifice, so His whole life shows us that we have to hold our lives lightly. I also think of his encounter with the rich, young ruler who followed the law to the letter but couldn’t stand the idea of letting go of his money. That sacrifice was too high a price for him and he went away sad. Jesus never made it a secret that sacrifice was a requirement of following Him. Even more, He made a promise that everything we sacrifice will be given back beyond what was actually sacrificed. (Luke 9:24, Luke 18:28-30)
Sacrifice isn’t easy and God doesn’t treat it lightly. He knows our hearts better than we do. He’s also sacrificed His Son in order to have a relationship with us so He gets the pain involved. Sacrifice is how we remove the things that get between us and God. God sees what we hold tighter than Him and then He invites us deeper into relationship with Him by asking us to sacrifice that thing. Sacrifice becomes the doorway to deeper intimacy with God.
What are you holding on to, unwilling to sacrifice it to walk closer with God? God will never force you to make a sacrifice but, He will provide invitation and opportunity because His ultimate desire is to walk closely with you. I would encourage you to pray for wisdom and comfort as you hold your life lightly.