Sunday morning I got up, got dressed, went to church, and sat in my usual spot. My pastor preached about faith-the faith of Abram when God asked him to be willing to sacrifice his son, his only son, Isaac.
Let’s be clear up front. God did not ask Abram to murder Isaac. He asked Abram to sacrifice him. To be willing to give Isaac up out of love for Him. This is not murder. This is putting God first, before anything else.
All afternoon and evening and through the next day I kept mulling over whether or not I have the faith of Abram. I asked myself again and again, “Would I have been able…or willing…to place one of my daughters on a pit and sacrifice her life?”
My answer was always the same. I am just not sure. And because I am not sure, I wondered what that meant about my faith. I know that I love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I know that as much as my fallen human eyes and emotions can fathom, I see God for who He is: His beauty and majesty; love; grace; justice and mercy. I want nothing from Him but to love and be loved by Him. I think that I have faith to crawl on the pit, hand someone a knife, and say to them, “Sacrifice my life to God.” But, offer my child. Oh, my.
As I was pondering all this, I thought about my daughter when she was in ICU a couple of years ago. Her life hung in the balance as machines gave her breath and nutrition and fought her infections and filtered toxins from her kidneys. I thought of how I pleaded with God to let all of those machines and medications work in her body and bring about her healing.
I thought about how, after she passed away, I sat beside her bed for the first hour or two thinking, “Maybe this is not real; maybe God will bring her back. Maybe, she will start breathing again. Maybe, her eyelashes will flutter; a breath will slip from her lips; maybe, her fingers will reach for me. I sat there as my husband made phone calls to tell others she was gone, and prayed to God that she wasn’t. Since I sat beside her deathbed trying to will her back to life; could I possibly have had the faith of Abram? I just don’t know.
With soul-searching and prayer, my faithful God comforted me with four truths about faith He has taught me along the way:
I DON’T HAVE TO HAVE THE FAITH OF ABRAM
It was imperative to redemptive history that there be no doubt regarding Abram’s faithfulness to God. Abram’s extreme demonstration of being willing to sacrifice Isaac showed every person from that day forward that faithfulness to God, the Father, and no other, matters most. Isaac was the son of the promise that God gave to Abram. As the son of promise, Isaac “promised” forward to the fulfillment of redemption through the sacrifice of God the Son, the Promised Son, Jesus Christ, through whom every nation, tribe, and generation, would come to know God. (Gen 22, Heb 11:17-19)
The Holy Spirit gave me faith. He enabled me to place my faith in Jesus, the Promised Son and from that moment, I have enjoyed a relationship with God (Gal 4:1-6). I don’t need the faith of Abram, or of anyone else. I need the faith given to me from God the Spirit (2 Cor 12). God grants me the faith that I need to believe in Him, worship Him, know Him, love Him, enjoy Him, trust Him, and lean on Him.
THE FAITH THAT HAS BEEN GIVEN TO ME BY THE HOLY SPIRIT IS ENOUGH
The faith given to me by the Spirit is the measure of faith God has deemed to be enough to walk the path He has set before me. For me, this is enough faith to continuously navigate the shadow of my daughter’s death (Ps 23), leaning on Jesus day by day, minute by minute, second by second. This is enough faith to serve Christ on earth as ambassador and minister or reconciliation (2 Cor 5). The faith that God has given me is enough for me to be confident and assured that because of the substitution of Jesus Christ, I will live in His presence eternally (Rom 8:31-39).
THE FAITH GIVEN TO ME IS ENOUGH FAITH TO GO WHERE I DO NOT WANT TO GO
God does not ask me to question my faith. God’s word tells me to do the opposite. His word tells me to be confident in my faith. (Heb 10:19).God does not ask me to do the impossible, because nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). Instead God tells me to realize the immeasurable power of the Holy Spirit living in me (Eph 1:19). God, Himself, lives in me, and through Him I can enjoy good times giving thanks and praise to God for my blessings. I can face difficult times knowing that the power that raised Jesus from the dead is the power that strengthens me (Eph 1:20).
My life with God requires me to “go where I don’t want to go (Jn 21:18),” and when I enter the “unwanted” places, through His word, God reminds me that the journey is possible through faith (Mt 19:26), and that He will be with me each step of the way (Ps 37:23).
AS I WALK WITH GOD, MY FAITH IS ALWAYS GROWING
For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control. (Gal 5:22-23)
The faith God granted Abram was the faith Abram needed. Abram was called to demonstrate to mankind, for all times, the active, living faith, that places God before all other loves.
The faith God grants me is the faith I need. As I trust Him in circumstance after circumstance, my faith grows. The faith God gives you is the faith you need. The granting of faith is an act of grace. His grace is sufficient for each of us. Our faith grows as His power is made perfect through our weakness.
I will not die but live and proclaim what God has done. PS 118:17