We had a cliff hanger today, Genesis 22:1-10:
1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied.
2 Then God said, "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." 3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you."
6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, "Father?" "Yes, my son?" Abraham replied. "The fire and wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"
8 Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together. 9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
Why the cliff hanger? Why not finish the story and let it resolve?
This is a story my girls know well, they've heard it before. I wanted them to really put themselves in Isaac's shoes, to sense what it would really be like to lay down their lives. So we did. After studying the passage, we acted it out--I was Abraham, they were all Isaac. We gathered sticks from the yard (and prop closet). We "camped out" in a changing room and looked at the stars, remembering God's promise to Abraham. We stopped for a snack and a story about the sacrifice Abraham made earlier and what a burnt offering sacrifice was. Although our journey didn't take three days, we ended in the sanctuary, with each of them taking a turn laying down on the pile of sticks, imagining what Isaac might have thought and felt.
I think they got it. Isaac didn't know the outcome as going to be what it was. But what he did know was that his dad loved him and trusted God. And when those two things were in conflict, he chose God.
That's a tough choice. Abraham didn't always make the right choice, but he had enough experience with God to know that really, making the right choice the first time is the right thing to do. Even if it seems hard or to lead to something opposite of what God has promised you.
Laying down your life it a big thing to ask of a kid...but it's exactly what God asked of Isaac.
Wow. That's a big "ask" for an adult, let alone a kid.
But that's what God does. He calls kids to big things.
Am I ready for that as a parent?
And in a cool twist, this week's memory verse comes from the passage we used the first week, 1 John 3:16:
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another.