We have been reading through James this month in our home fellowship. I’ve always liked the first chapter of James… reminding us to “consider it pure joy” to face trials. Let me tell you, with six children, it feels like I am constantly facing trials. And James gives us the hope that these things are used by God to grow us in our faith, to bring us closer to perfection in Christ. So whether it’s a small trial like lost keys or a big trial like a scary diagnosis, we know that we can rejoice, that God will work it for our good, and to God’s glory. This, I like. This place, I can live in pretty easily.
But read a bit further on, and you start getting into that bit about our works (attitudes, behaviors, etc.) being evidence of our living faith. And late in chapter two comes this humdinger:
“You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. James 2:20-23
I can tell you, I’ve never been that fond of the story of Abraham taking Isaac up to Moriah and offering him to God. I mean~ this wasn’t a Hannah-offering-Samuel kind of deal, where at least she knew he was being well cared for and could visit once in awhile. This was him fully agreeing to sacrifice~ to kill! his son… the longed-for fulfillment of God’s promise to make him the father of nations. I admit that I am suspicious of Abraham’s complete obedience… did he perhaps plead with God to spare his son? Did he pray the whole long trek up the mountain that there would be another way? Did he dare to hope that, as he told his son before tying him up and laying him across the altar: God would provide the sacrifice? He was, after all, human. And a Daddy.
I know that for me, one of the hardest things to do in my day to day life is to let go. To fully accept that the Creator of the universe also is the Creator of my child. He is loved by God~ more than he is loved by me. And while I have been blessed with the task of guiding and loving and raising him~ he really belongs first to God. And living fully into that truth is a result of my faith, and evidence of it. As I respond in obedience, my faith is ‘made complete.’
Would I be able to surrender so completely to the will of God that I could sacrifice my son? I hope I will never have to find out. Should I, every moment of every day, surrender to the truth of God’s love and control over the life of my son? I hope that I do, by the grace of God.