“I learned that faith isn't tested by how often God answers prayers with a yes, but by my willingness to continue serving Him and thanking Him even when I don't have a clue as to what He is doing.”Driving down Interstate 77 from Virginia into North Carolina can be a spectacular drive, particularly when the sun is shining from the west and you arrive at the point where you can see the valley into North Carolina all the way to Mt. Airy. This drive can also be treacherous even on the best of days. The grade is at 4-1/2 percent and there is an elevation change of 1500 feet. All along the route there are escape ramps for tractor trailers that loose their brakes.
~Gary House, Seeking the Face of God:
The Path to a More Intimate Relationship with Him
As long as the driver of the car or truck has kept up maintenance on his or her vehicle and obeys the traffic rules, including suggested speeds--not just speed limits, the trip can be accomplished in safety and enjoyment. Until something out of the driver's control appears...like fog.
Driving in fog changes the environment from friendly to dangerous instantly. On that particular stretch of I-77 the fog settles all around your car and it is impossible to see anything ahead or behind you. Turning on your headlights is a necessity, but increasing their brightness by using your high beams is a mistake as the fog seems brighter and closer to your car. You have to be satisfied with driving slowly and cautiously seeing just a few feet in front of your car, always being on the lookout for other vehicles suddenly appearing right in front of you.
No matter how many times you have made that trip, the danger of the fog never becomes safer. Being familiar with the route helps only in that you can anticipate where the road will curve next. You have no control over what is around that curve and little time to prepare for obstacles.
I wonder if Abraham felt like he was in a blinding fog as he obeyed God and headed to Mt. Moriah with his son Isaac. He knew the route, he packed enough provisions for the trip. He also packed the supplies for a sacrifice. These things were easily identified, so the entire community probably knew Abraham and Isaac were going to the mountains to worship the Lord with a sacrifice. The three day trip must have seemed so short to Abraham as he thought over the Lord's directive:
"Abraham! Take your dear son Isaac whom you love and go to the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I'll point out to you." Genesis 22:1-2 MSGThis boy Abraham loved was the child of promise given to him in his old age. He had waited 25 years for Isaac to be born. Just the wait for the child was a test of faith in itself. Abraham passed that test with only a few bumps along the way. But now Abraham had to be questioning God...since He had been clear that His promise to make Abraham a great nation would be accomplished though Isaac.
At the point Abraham and Isaac took the supplies for the sacrifice and turned up the mountain to hike to the top of Mt. Moriah, Isaac noticed a vital part of the sacrificial ritual was missing. Isaac was probably not the small child that popular picture Bibles depict. Likely he was a teenager and in their culture, already considered an adult. I suspect Isaac was aware of the possibilities when he questioned his father.
"My father! We have flint and wood, but where's the sheep for the burnt offering?" Genesis 22:7 MSGThe fog must have seemed really thick at this point. Abraham didn't know what God was going to do. He just knew that the God he had acknowledged at Beersheba (Genesis 21:33-34) as El Olam, the Eternal God, would keep His promise to use Isaac as the seed for a great nation. But Abraham understood the ritual of sacrifice. It involved binding the sacrifice, cutting it's throat, letting the blood coat the altar, then burning it. He intended to follow through with what he knew to do even though you know he was in agony at the thought of doing those things to his son.
Yet Abraham answered Isaac's question with quiet faith.
"God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." Genesis 22:8 NASBWithout understanding why God was requiring this sacrifice, Abraham did as he was told.
They arrived at the place to which God had directed him. Abraham built an altar. He laid out the wood. Then he tied up Isaac and laid him on the wood. Abraham reached out and took the knife to kill his son. Genesis 22:9-10 MSGI love how Mrs. L.B. Cowman includes the conclusion of this story in Streams in the Desert: May 9 devotion.
Once Abraham's faith had victoriously endured its greatest test, the Angel of the Lord--the Lord Jesus, Jehovah, and He in whom the "many promises God has made..."--spoke to him and said, "Now I know that you fear God" (Genesis 22:12). The Lord said to him, in effect, "Because you have trusted me through this great trial, I will trust you, and you will forever be 'my friend' (Isaiah 41:8)." The Lord promised Abraham, "I will surely bless you...and through your offspring all nations of the earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me" (Genesis 22:17-18).Do you think that fog Abraham had been walking in just melted away, burned off by the radiance of God's mercy and blessing?
God is faithful to His own, even when we are clueless as to His purpose. Not being able to see the end of the road (or more than a few feet in front of us) should cause us to move closer to God, holding on to Him tightly as we wait for Him to show us the way.
"Faith, when walking through the dark with God, only asks Him to hold his hand more tightly." ~ Phillips Brooks, Episcopal minister and author of "O Little Town of Bethlehem"