I have a pet name: Boxer. Not because I punch the lights out of people, but because I am tight-fisted. Kuripot. A miser. A Scrooge. A Chinese Ilocano Jew (with apologies to these ethnic groups).
One time, my wife Lucy and I had excess cash. She suggested we give it as a love gift to a pastor. I balked, "What for? We may need it one day."
I was not at peace for the rest of that day. Then I remembered how Abraham was blessed. Abraham waited 25 years for his son Isaac to be born. Then God told Abraham, “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.” (Genesis 22:2).
I don’t know about you, but I would shoot back, “Are you kidding, Lord?” The same "what for?" tone I gave Lucy.
Incredibly, early the next morning, Abraham set out with Isaac towards Moriah. No excuses. No delays. The journey took three days, plenty of time for Abraham to change his mind. But his obedience was unwavering and absolute. Upon arriving at the site, Abraham built a wooden altar, laid Isaac on it, and took the knife to slaughter his son.
Make no mistake, he was going to do it! Not, “Well, Lord, ummm… here I am, about to slit Isaac’s throat … If You really don’t want me to do it, now’s the time to say so… You really don’t want this, huh, Lord? … I’m still waiting, Lord….”
At the precise moment when Abraham was about to kill Isaac, an angel of God stopped him. The angel said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore” (Genesis 22:17).
Do you see how we can be blessed? It starts with obeying God’s call to surrender all that takes first place before Him, i.e. our Isaacs. Then God will not only bless us, He will use us to bless the people around us.
Isaac symbolizes whatever is most near and dear to our hearts. Perhaps Abraham had grown fonder of Isaac than of God. For me, my Isaac was a comfortable life. That means money.
God wants me to be free from the love of money and be content with what I have. Thus, oftentimes God corrects me by giving me opportunities to give, to offer, to sacrifice. He is training me to rest my security on Him, not on a fat bank account.
Later, Lucy brought up the issue again. This time, I said, "Yes. Give." Thus, we gave that love gift to that pastor.
When we release our Isaacs, God releases blessing.
Photo credit: David Brooke Martin, Unsplash
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