Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "When Mothers Of Salem"1 (Lyrics)
Hebrews 11:17a – By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. (NIV)
When I was young, I had determined to be the perfect mother, but that was before encountering the unfamiliar subway system in Toronto, Canada, with my two children, aged three and four.
It was Monday. The day before, I'd heard a study of the Old Testament story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. The story is so important to Jews that it has a special name, the Akedah (binding). As we waited for the subway train, I was thinking about an old hymn with a verse that begins "With mercy and with judgment, my web of time He wove." Unlike Abraham, I was neither listening closely to God, nor letting Him weave any of my time. However, stuck in my head was an image of God making a tapestry of each of our days. The subway train came and we got on. The car was crowded, but I found a seat for my three-year-old son and then turned to help my daughter.
When I looked back, however, my son was gone! A very large woman sat in his place. I called his name frantically until I heard him squeak, "Help, Mommy!" A little hand was sticking out from beneath her.
"Get off that child!" I said.
"There's plenty of room for both of us." She shook her head, not budging.
"Off!" I pushed sideways, managing to move enough of her to free him.
"Well, I never!" she said huffily. Then, the train stopped, and she got off.
But on our return trip, he went missing again, darting back out the door. His quick-witted four-year-old sister rushed after him, but then, the door closed, and the train moved on, leaving them alone in a crowd of strangers on the platform.
New to subways, I didn't know how to get help. All I could do was pray myself to the next stop while unexpectedly rethinking the story of Abraham and Isaac. Both of my children were suddenly gone. Had I ever really entrusted them to God? What about my determination to be a perfect mother? Had I asked God for help with that?
At the next stop, I ran across to another train going back to the previous station, where I looked until I found the two of them, my daughter's small hands holding her brother safe, their backs pressed firmly against the subway wall. For the first time, I saw them as my "Isaacs", dearer to me than all the world, and yet suddenly, I was willing to leave them in God's hands, and trust and obey. I told God, "I can't handle it. You take over!"
Making Abraham's choice to obey is vital to our spiritual life. Our Isaacs are our ambitions, dream houses, and plans for the future that we hug to ourselves, leaving out God's plan. Are we willing to trust our future to God and ask His direction for our lives and work?
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, You hold the key of all unknown, and we are glad. We'd rather You unlocked the day, and, as the hours swing open, say, "Your will is best." We cannot read Your future plans, but this we know: we have the smiling of Your face and all the refuge of Your grace while here below. Enough; this covers all our wants; and so we rest; for what we cannot, You can see, and in Your care we saved shall be, forever blessed. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen. (Adapted from Joseph Parker, 1830-1902.)