On the Altar

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.
(Genesis 22:9)

Well friends, I’m back after a protracted blogging hiatus. At least, I’m partially back. There are several competitors for my time these days, most of which occur in my analog life.  But I have missed you and am trying to read a handful of posts each day.

This is a crazy season for our family. My girls are thriving – exploring who they are, growing in faith, and learning some important communication and time-management skills (because, really, this fall has been brutal schedule-wise).  It’s been insane but in a fun and exhilarating way.

Then there’s our prodigal… In his case, this life season is something less than exhilarating. Something much less.

But as I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed for him and for others who resist the Lord’s call to obedience, it’s my own resistance which I’m forced to confront.

Once again, God brings my attention back to the beginning – both the book of Genesis and the genesis of my own faith journey.

Figuratively speaking, I trek in the footsteps of Abraham as he traveled to Moriah along with Isaac, the promised son. For much of my calling is a call to sacrifice.

For perhaps the first time, I find myself more like Abraham on this trip. In the past when my King has called for me to meet with Him in the smoke of a sacrifice, I’ve hesitated. In moments I’m now ashamed of, I’ve even been guilty of begrudging Him the offering He’s asked of me.

Not today.

Today as I step up to the altar, the ashes of the past serve as reminders of the things I’ve burned here before and of what’s become of them.

The ashes of a career lays in the mix; remnants of the time I offered up my aspirations and financial comfort on these old stones. Though I barely knew my Lord back then and believed I would be staying home for 5 or 6 years, experience now superimposes the glory of God over the sooty remains.

I became a homeschool mom. The 5 or 6 year span stretched out into 17 years and counting.

Today I can say, as Abraham once did, “The Lord will provide,” because He has – far more than I would’ve guessed. My sacrifice seemed large at the time, but what God provided in the aftermath is massive. Superfluous even.

So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”
(Genesis 22:14)

Since those early years, God has called me back to the altar from time to time and other remains lay scattered in the dust; charred fragments of my time, my convenience, my preferences, many of my dreams, my sense of control – a whole lot of me, when I think of it.

Not for nothing did the old German preacher, Dietrich Bonhoeffer write, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” Much of what Christ called me to sacrifice on this altar is myself. Just as He once did. His immaculate life for me and my grubby little speck of a life for Him. Words can’t do it justice.

Today, I once more stand symbolically where Abraham, my father according to the Promise, once stood literally; feet covered in ash but a heart full of trust. For now I know that anything I offer up in obedience to His call will not die in vain. Either its death is a necessity for the better plan of the All-Knowing God, or He can and will raise it from the dead. I have not only read of this matter in the Book, I have seen it with my own eyes.

This time, I approach with a dual offering.

For the first, I lay down my goals for You, Lord. On this altar I place the writing career I’ve been trying to eke out in my spare time over the last couple of years. Do with it as You will.

And for the most profound, I give you the son of my womb whose name translates, “He gave.” You did give him to us, and you know him better than I ever could. I have done with him all I know to do and he is now nearly a man. And Lord, it grieves me immensely to say he seems to be rejecting You.

I set the life of my son on this altar before You, Lord, trusting that even if I must watch his faith in You die, You are able to raise it up from the dead.

He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.
(Hebrews 11:19)

And I wait with eager expectation to see what You will do…

Tuesday Prayer for the Family of God

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Father to the fatherless and Creator of the family, we praise You for the ways You work. Because we are Your children and You love us, You discipline us when we err and welcome us back when we turn to You in repentance. You are astonishingly patient with us and so give us an example of how we ought to be with one another.

For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
John 13:15-17

Oh how we love You and the Word of Truth! Teach our mouths and hearts to rejoice in Your Truth daily and use it to change us for Your glory. Increase in us love for You, zeal for Your Kingdom, desire for Your Word, fervency in prayer, humility to accept responsibility for our sin, and willingness to repent and cooperate with You. You are the God who sanctifies us. Let us not be at war with Your Spirit or with each other but with the evil one alone.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
Ephesians 6:12-13

Today we also pray for wayward children whether they are our peers and fellow children of God or our own physical or spiritual children and grandchildren. Our hearts long to see each of these walk in a right relationship to You. Lord, please, draw the prodigals among us back to You. Only You can pierce a stony heart; pierce theirs. Your Word is clear that none can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him. Draw them, Lord. We plead with You to add their names to the Lamb’s book of life even as we joyfully anticipate the celebration of their salvation.

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
James 1:14-15

Please also change us. In times when we face temptation, remind us that You always provide a way out so we have no excuse to fall but for our own evil desires. Help us to hold ourselves and one another accountable as ambassadors for Your eternal Kingdom. When one among us does succumb to temptation, guide us in how to restore such a one lovingly but without minimizing the deplorable nature of sin.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
Galatians 6:1

Knowing that we are so prone to pride, we ask for You to guide us in every circumstance and give us the correct measure of grace and truth. Teach us to genuinely forgive as we have been forgiven and to stand firm on the Gospel – even in places where it seems a bizarre contrast to our world. Remind us that we serve a Kingdom which is not of this world and give us the courage to stand. It is in the mighty name of Jesus and for His glory we pray, amen.