I’ve been studying the life of Abraham in my Bible Study on Genesis. In recent weeks, we’ve walked through some difficult things with him. I’ve wondered what it must have been like to see the smoke rising from Sodom and Gomorrah, to wait for Isaac, the son of God’s promise, for so many years, and to watch Ishmael, the son of his own doing, walk away, never to return. This week we read Genesis 22 about when God tested Abraham’s faith by asking him to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering. I shared in my group about the painful journey with my oldest son. In many ways, it has been a laying down my Isaac….well actually, technically speaking, my Ishmael is more accurate.
We were asked the question, “What is your Isaac?” The teaching lead read a quote from Carol Kent’s book, “When I Lay My Isaac Down”. The quote was basically about letting go of your desires and offering the people or situation to God in prayer. She spoke of making “heart sacrifices” – choices that honor God. Earlier, she had used the words “sustained obedience” in reference to Abraham.
I have a couple of little Isaac’s at home – ages 7 and 3. I’ve been trying to homeschool through everything that has happened, and overall, God has helped us stay the course. What I realized in listening to this lecture last night though is how much my emotional turmoil has overshadowed our daily home life. I made a conscious choice to turn my attention to my little ones and ask God to help me be up for the task of mothering them.
One day, my three year old son was sitting at the kitchen table when he threw back his head, looked up at the ceiling, and blurted out, “Lord help us”. As he said it, he was kind of wringing his little hands. It was a funny sight, until I realized he was mimicking me. This must be what I look like, trying to get through the day. How often I walk around the house muttering, Lord help me. It was a vivid illustration about how our hurting affects those around us.
I thought about this. Is it a bad thing to ask God for help? No. Is it my pride that makes me wince at my obvious weakness? Yes. I wonder how much Abraham let Isaac see his struggle to walk him up that hill to the sacrifice. Was he stoical? Did he break down? We don’t know. We only see the picture of complete trust between father and son, a picture that illustrates the relationship between our heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
I know this: my current challenges in mothering and homeschooling are testing me for all I’m worth. Any heroic notions and delusions of competence I previously had are being strained out in each difficult step. I know what it is to be brought low and crushed to the ground – by a preschooler! My little Isaac is part Dennis the Menace and part Peter Pan…mischievous…maddening…charming….whimsical. He runs circles around me and totally exhausts me by mid-morning. And this is the good days, when I have my
game face on. I wake up with a plan to occupy him, but we go through my plans (playdoh, stamps, trucks, markers, etc) all in one sitting. He makes a big mess and then wants to move on to a new one. Great, now what? I guess I have been reduced again to snacks and television. Please God, help us. Let him actually watch the television today so we can get through our lessons. I hear in my head the parenting critics…blah, blah, blah about too much television. I say, come on over if you want to be his entertainment!
People tell me how impressed they have been with how I’ve walked the difficult road of the past several years. One friend told me, “No one else could have gotten through this like you have. You have a strong faith”. I say, well, that remains to be seen. I am in the middle of a journey of sustained obedience, making hourly heart sacrifices. My little Isaacs and I drudge uphill to get through the school day. I pray for the strength not to falter or turn back; not to dissolve in tears and total defeat. My life is so far from the vision of perfect trust, heroic faith. The best thing I can do is cry out, “Lord help us!” in our moments of desperation, and be comforted and strengthened in knowing that He will.
“Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided” (Genesis 22:14).
Abraham told the servants on his way up the mountain, “We will go to worship and we will be back”. He had the faith to believe that he and Isaac would make it out alive together. That sounds like a good daily prayer for mothers who make the arduous climb to the altar with their Isaacs, “We will go to worship and we will be back”. What if we could see motherhood as a living sacrifice of worship? The thought inspires me to rise again this morning and to cry out, “Here I am, Lord” like Abraham. My Isaacs and I go together, believing we will make it back alive….and do it all again tomorrow.