Not too long after our son Robert was born, we moved to Tennessee. One morning while the children slept late, I took time and knelt in earnest prayer. I prayed for family, my husband, my children, my parents, and many of the dear friends I had made while living in Knoxville. As I lifted myself up off of my knees, I had the distinct impression that I needed to drop all of my plans for the day and drive over to visit Mary Anne.
I gathered my children into the car and drove over to my friends home. I remember as I got out of the car I felt myself being wrapped with a love I had not known before. It filled me up, moved me to tears and as I walked toward the house it enveloped me. I remember knocking on the door and having Mary Anne open the door with a look of astonishment upon her face. "What are you doing here?" she asked boldly but still trying to be polite. I stumbled upon my words, tried to hide my embarrassment and possible misjudgment and finally told her I didn't know, but I felt very impressed to come and ask if I could be of help.
She then invited me in explained how only a few hours before she had been rear ended. Her car was severely damaged but mostly she was suffering from whiplash and was in great pain. She was angry and hurt because of the financial damage that the accident had caused. Her anger consumed her and she had refused to pray. So why was I there? To help her pray? We enjoyed a long conversation and before I left I knelt in prayer with her. Her husband (not a believer) did not encourage prayer and she had been overwhelmed as she tried to handle everything on her own. When I first arrived, her anger seemed to be a living beast with which she had been struggling. By the time I left and we had time to talk about our faith and the power of prayer, she was much improved and the battle over anger had been won.
I remember this day not because of the pain and anger my dear friend went through, but because she had been cared for by a higher power. Her astonishment when she answered the door was not because I was there, but because of who my presence represented. I had come to serve her and help her remember God's love for her. She had been trying to handle life alone... until cornered she didn't know who to call or where to turn. God knew. God knew of her need. God had a plan to care for her. God had a plan to help her understand his love for her. I had been listening and "because ... I did obey .."his" voice." I was able to act as a means to bring relief to my dear friend. As we sat and discussed how this all came about both of our testimonies grew. We realized that the sacrifice of both time and desire was needed for the miracle to occur. I had sacrificed my time and desire to do what I wanted. Mary Anne had sacrificed her need for independence and her will to be angry.
As I pondered what to write about I realized that the real thing that Abraham was being tested on was desire. What was his desire? To have his will over God's? or to have God's will over his own. It is a hard thing to master... this thing we call desire.
Abraham's faith was at a point where he was asked to give up the one thing that God knew he loved the most. He had spent most of his life praying for it: Gen as:2-3; 13: 14-16; 15:5; 17:2,4,7 all reveal the promises that God has made to Abraham concerning his progeny and eternal life. Genesis 22 is the climax of a great story of faith. Here he has all that he has wanted and God does not take it from him, but rather he asks Abraham to give it up. It is the ultimate test of loyalty, obedience and faith. It was meant to help Abraham understand the importance of not only loving and respecting the greater power of God, but also of giving all he had to it.
I could have brushed off my knees that morning and started one of my many projects. Or crossed off many of my "to-do" items that fill my errand list and are always weighing on me, but I chose to listen.. I chose to follow the less traveled road ...I chose to obey... and that made all the difference.
What if Abraham had not obeyed? What if he had become angry? And what if the story had been played out before but we only got the condensed version? I don't mean to sacrilegious, but consider that Abraham might have had the prompting before and chose to ignore it until he was at a place in his faith that he had the strength to do what was required of him. The Lord teaches us "line upon line."I believe it's important for us to realize this possibility because the Bible Stories all come to us in a condensed version. We must consider the time schedule that were written in. We must realize that not all stories play out like a television sit com. We must also realize that this story in Genesis 22 represents the culmination of all of the faith trials that Abraham had endured. We surely did not receive all of them in the book of Genesis. As we surely can not know all of the times the Lord has spoken to him.
The Lord has blessings he will give us when we choose to obey the voice that answers our prayers. Part of the practice of prayer is learning to listen and then distinguish between the voice of our own will over that of the Lord. Consider that the angel of the Lord called a second time to Abraham that because he had not "withheld thy son, thine only son," he would fulfill all of the blessings that he had promised him.
My favorite line is "and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice."
In my days... in my life... I can't bless "all the nations" by being obedient to the Lord, but I can bless
all the children of my family, all my friends, all of my family. I can help those I love remember the importance of not only listening and hearing the Lord's voice (or that of his angels), but of obeying.
It takes courage to overcome fear and discipline to forge courage. It is my prayer that my children, my children's children and my extended network of family and friends will all benefit from the blessing of my choices in life. It is my prayer that like Abraham, I will choose to "obey" my Lord's voice and counsel of wisdom.