Imagine a room filled with hundreds of people worshiping at God’s feet, with hands and voices raised in unison. As you watch, people begin vanishing one by one as though they were never there at all.
Several years ago, this was the vision God gave me to show what would happen if I wasn’t obedient to walk in the calling He had placed on my life. At the time, I didn’t fully understand the concept of ministry and I certainly didn’t see how I could be used to help bring people to Jesus. My life was messy and, even though I had been saved, I had no personal relationship with God besides waving hello on Sunday mornings.
Although it took a few more years until I fully understood the meaning behind that vision, I did begin to realize the importance of obedience. I had always assumed that obedience was for my own benefit so that God could put the right people in my life and I could receive all He had planned for me, but He clearly showed me that I would not be the only one impacted if I chose to ignore my calling.
Obedience is hard when we feel like what we’re being asked to do is too extreme, especially if the outcome isn’t something we would have predicted or wanted.
One of the best examples in scripture is Abraham and Isaac. In Genesis 22:2, God tells Abraham, “Take now your son, your only son whom you love, Isaac, and go to the region of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
No matter how challenging the calling on our lives may seem, most of us can look at this example and be thankful that we weren’t asked to sacrifice the life of our only child on a mountaintop. Yet in the very next verse, we see Abraham’s obedience: “So Abraham rose early in the morning and went to the place which God had told him.”
It took Abraham and Isaac three days to arrive at their destination; this wasn’t just a quick hike up the mountain. Can you imagine that trip? Isaac was his promised son, and Abraham knew that the path they were on would lead to his death, yet he kept walking for three days.
We all know how this story ends. In Genesis 22:12, at the last second, God calls to Abraham and says, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him.” After Abraham provided the obedience, God provided the ram. He spared Abraham’s son, and He spared Abraham’s heart.
Abraham did not know or have control over the outcome, but he was obedient because he trusted God and God’s love for him. Even when Isaac asked, “Where is the sacrifice?” Abraham responded, “God Himself will provide the lamb.”
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all.
– Romans 8:32
God did not spare His own Son, nor did He spare His own heart when He provided our lamb. Jesus went up to Mount Calvary with the cross on His back the same way that Isaac walked up the mountain with wood on his back, but this time, there was no replacement sacrifice.
Scripture includes the story of Isaac and Abraham not only to show us Abraham’s obedience, but also to show us the depth of God’s love for us. Sometimes it seems like God is asking too much. We don’t want to give up our Isaac, and the only thing that keeps us moving forward in obedience is the overwhelming truth of God’s steadfast love. We are only able to manifest the power of God’s love when we yield to it.
God told Abraham, “I know that you love Me because you did not withhold your son from Me.” When we look at the cross, we can confidently say, “Lord, I know that you love me because You did not withhold Your Son from me.”
This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and
sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
– 1 John 4:10