This year Ready for the Road Ahead is taking on a new direction. It is one that follows the grand theme of sight in all aspects which runs throughout Scripture. My weekly writings will be excerpts from a book of the same name which should be published (Lord willing) later this year.
One of the great aspects of photography is that it teaches you to notice things that most people consistently pass by. Some of my fellow photographers have commented on my pictures citing that I have a knack for noticing something that most would naturally not be drawn to seeing. A rusty latch, the pattern of a metal bench against a stone wall, a stick emerging from the snow, or a leaf stuck on top of the recycling bin- they all have the potential of becoming a piece of art when I point my camera at them. “I just love the way you see things,” my friend Bob remarked after he watched me take a photo of a rusty chain on a fire hydrant. I don’t know exactly how I “see” these oddities, but I do know that photography has honed this skill of mine.
Seeing is a critical factor in the story of the sacrifice of Isaac. You know the story. After years of waiting and a few missteps along the way, Abraham and Sarah were finally blessed with a son. You can imagine their shock, disappointment and fear when God says to Abraham, “Take your son, your only son, and offer him to me as a sacrifice.” (Gen. 22:2). What kind of God goes to all the trouble of making the impossible (a child born to a couple long after childbearing years) possible and then commands that you “return” him”? However, Scripture tells us that this incredulous request was a “test” to see the degree of Abraham’s faithfulness (Gen. 22:1). It is one thing to pack up your household and move to unknown territory which is what Abraham did when he left Ur of the Chaldeans. Truth be told, if that move hadn’t worked out, Abraham could have always moved back. But from the human viewpoint, there probably was not another miraculous conception in the future for Sarah.
Abraham passes the test. He never argues with God or bargains for a different way to pull the sacrifice off. “Really Lord? Sacrifice Issac? Wouldn’t one of the flock be just as acceptable? I mean, what will the neighbors think of us killing off the heir we told them that You’d promised to us? They certainly won’t believe in You after this!” No, instead we see Abraham resolutely and faithfully following God’s request as if he understands exactly what God is up to. And at the moment he raises the blade to plunge into Isaac we collectively hold our breath and look the other way. It is at this precise moment the Lord steps in and stops the action. The Lord tells Abraham that He has seen Abraham’s faith in his willingness to sacrifice his “only son” (Gen. 22:12). And we are informed that because of this Abraham called the place Yahweh (Yah-way) Yireh (year-ray) which translators have written as “The Lord will provide” (Gen. 22:14). But the word yireh is based on the verb ra-ah which means “to see”. This place is not called “The Lord will Provide” (although He did and that translation has persisted). It actually means “The Lord will See”. Therefore the focus in not on what God will do or even what He did. It is about what God saw.
God told Abraham, “Take your son and offer him to me”. What is He asking of me? God saw the reverence in Abraham’s faith in that he would give to God the thing that he treasured most. I believe He asks the same of me. “Take the vacation money you were saving and give it to this ministry.” “Take that four day weekend and give the time to help out a widow who can’t clean her yard.” “Take one Sunday and give it to the nursery so a young mom can hear the sermon undistracted.” “Take…and give because I have asked you to and I want to SEE just how much you believe that I AM the Lord of your life.” If we truly believe that God is Who He says He is, how does the way we live show that? When God looks at you and me, what does He SEE? Does He see our faith in action as He did with Abraham?
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
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