An Altar for the Promise

I’m not sure exactly how to start this blog. I’ve tried typing out every beginning I could think of but the words just don’t seem to flow right. This is just hard. Lack of sleep possibly? I would say so.

Nevertheless I am reminded of the countless people who try to do things (even the dreams and promises given to them) in their own strength and end up exhausted and literally burned out. Sometimes sadly we’re tempted to drop the ball before even getting started.

Abraham can relate to this quite well. Even Sarah laughed in disbelief.  “Oh that’ll never happen” She begins to list the many reasons why she couldn’t believe the promise.

This is why we have the descendants of Ishmael today. The beautiful thing about Abraham’s story is that Papa still blessed Abraham even though he clearly dropped the ball with Hagar. There was no condemnation. Papa was faithful to say, “I’m not giving up on you. You will be the father of faith.”

He came through on the promise and gave them Isaac.

He then asked Abraham to build an altar for the promise. “You want me to do WHAAAT??”

Taking the hand of his promise, Abraham said to his boy, “Come with me boy. We’re going to go build an altar.”

Gathering the kindling and larger logs, Isaac struggled to carry the load on his young back.  As they made their way up the mountain, the young lad took inventory. You see, even though he was young, he had been through this before. I can just hear him thinking softly to himself, “Okay, we’ve got the wood, and the knife and we even have the rope to tie the limbs of the sacrifice. Uhhh…the sacrifice. We don’t have a lamb. We always take a lamb. Why don’t we have a lamb?”  Calling up ahead to his father, Isaac inquired about the obvious “missing” ingredient to the altar.

“God will provide the sacrifice.” Abraham answered the call in blind faith.

Reaching the top of the mountain, the two put stone upon stone. They arranged the flat surface so that they could lay the offering up to God. Then Abraham started wrapping Isaac’s hands together. “uhhh Dad??? What are you doing? This is crazy!! No one said I would be the sacrifice! Dad!!!”

Tears swelled in Abraham’s eyes and flowed down his cheeks as he reminded Isaac of the promise God had given him.

“I remember your older half brother Ishmael. God gave me you as a promise. I wanted everything to work the way that I thought they should. I took things into my own hands. I remember the day I cried when I knew I had given up on the promise. But God was faithful. He gave me you, Isaac. I know you don’t understand.”

Abraham wiped Isaac’s tears as he embraced his son.

“I love you son. God gave me you. You are my promise. You were my promise from the very beginning and so much more. I’m telling you boy that if God can give you to me? He will come through on His promise. We’re going to make this sacrifice and God will provide. “

Isaac cried as Abraham laid his promise on the altar of surrender and obedience. In total blind faith, Abraham lifted the knife over his son, praying over his promise the entire time.

“God I still trust You. I trust You with this promise. He is yours God.”

As the knife descended, a bleating sound echoed from the bushes. It was the sacrifice- It was the spotless lamb.

It was all Abraham could do to stand on his now shaking feet. Crumbling in tears, he wrapped his arms around his promise. Kisses filled Isaac’s cheeks as his father untied his hands and feet. Isaac then ran to get the animal.

Papa had come through on His promise. The two wept in pure joy as they both sacrificed the animal on the altar dedicated to God.

I’ve been given many promises. We all have. Dreams that keep us up as we sketch or write the night away and even though we’re exhausted from the lack of sleep? We feel fulfilled by doing the things we love the most. Our dreams and desires were given to us for a purpose. No one said we couldn’t lay down those dreams in disbelief that they could never happen. And sadly many people do give up on their dreams.

One of my dreams (other than of course writing books) is to create dramas and skits to be performed by those who were once broken but only healed by Jesus. Performing in front of masses as the stories of faith and truth set people free.

As I think about my many promises and dreams, I wonder just how far those dreams would go if I were to lay them on the altar of obedience and surrender. Even though they’re my dream, I can only do so much with my hands on them. But with God? Ah. That’s a different story.

I choose today to lay my promise on the altar. I’m not even sure what that looks like, but unwavering trust. Even though Abraham did waver in his faith, God counted all the times he had faith and not the times where he faltered. He only counts the good moments with us. I don’t know what this whole thing is going to sound like or become, but I know that if Papa gave me the promise, He will fulfill it. He perfects that which concerns me (Psalm 138.8)

*Lays my promise on the altar of obedience*

My Papa will provide.

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