Saturday, February 18, 2017

Witholding Nothing
How do you feel about tests?  I know there's a few people out there who like tests but I'm not one of them. My palms get sweaty; my heart races a mile a minute and then the panic sets in. Have I studied enough?  Did I study the right stuff?  Will I remember what I studied?
Life often can be a series of tests, written and otherwise:  driver's tests, college exams, medical tests, aptitude tests and even God tests us.
Abraham was one of many that God would put to the test. 
Abraham had a dream.  A promise from God that He would make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the stars in the heaven.  Abraham waited and waited for this dream to be fulfilled.  Days and years and decades passed but it wasn’t until his old age that God finally satisfied this dream in the gift of Isaac, his son. And then one day God asked Abraham to give up the very thing he loved most in this world.
It was a test.  This test wasn’t in written form but it was a test all the same. 
When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it.  Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice.  At that moment the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, “Abraham!  Abraham!”
“Yes,”  Abraham replied.  “Here I am!”
“Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said.  “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God.  You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.” (Genesis 22.9-12)
God is a jealous God.  He desires full, complete, and total surrender from those who follow Him.  Each of us who claim to follow will have an “Abraham moment” at some point in our life.  Where God will ask us to lay on the altar the thing we hold most dear. God wants to see if what we say, is what we really believe. Are we true followers or just fans. Do we love Him more than anything else?
God created an Abraham moment for me with a dream I had held close to my heart for years. One day He asked me, “Kristi, will you follow me if I never let you go to the mission field?”
There was no middle ground with God. He is an all or nothing God and He wanted all of me. 
His way seemed so hard and my dream felt honorable and right.  How could He ask me to give it up?   But I felt much like Peter did when Jesus asked him if he would leave like all the others, “Lord, to whom would I go? You have the words that give eternal life.” (John 6.68) How could I do anything less than surrender my dream to Him.
What happens so often, with these tests, is that often God is just waiting for us to surrender it.  And then He returns our dreams and hopes back to us in ways we never would have imagined or even hoped.  These new dreams are bigger, brighter and more beautiful.
There is fear in letting go, giving up, and surrendering to God’s ways but that didn’t stop Abraham from being obedient and neither should it stop us!
Are you a true follower or just a fan?  If you claim to follow Him, God will someday put you to the test.  What will your answer be?