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An “Altar”ed State Of Mind


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The tears come fast and hard.

Dreams and plans that have been whirling in my head threaten to come crashing down around me as the spinning plates of circumstance wobble above my head.

There are too many variables.  Too many things that have to fall into place.  Way too many “impossibilities” to count in order for these little scenarios to play out.

I am not in control.

Oh, how I hate this.  The not knowing.  The limbo.

My feet feel like they’re dangling just above ground, not close enough to touch, desperate to stand on solid ground.

I just want to know for sure.

And so I cry.  They are tears of exhaustion.   The kind of tears that say, “I just can’t take the suspense any more, and can’t bear the thought of the disappointment that might follow.”

My hands are sore from the death grip on this dream.  My mind hurts from the stress of anxiously trying to fit all the pieces of my fantasy’s puzzle together.

Is this God’s dream or mine? I wonder.

And like a flash, I see a boy named Isaac.

A boy who represented a father’s dream. The boy who was the depiction of a future for Abraham’s family line. 

This boy, promised by God, given by God, would be put on an altar of sacrifice.  I can’t even imagine the pain, the confusion, the utter devastation that must have overcome Abraham’s heart when God asked him to lay Isaac there.

I bet Abraham cried.

I bet he sobbed like there was no tomorrow.  Because, in essence, Isaac WAS his tomorrow.  His legacy.  Everything he wanted on this earth.

His dream on the altar.  In position to be killed, destroyed.

And at the last minute, when that axe was in the air aimed and ready, when Abraham was no doubt blind with tears of grief and loss, God said, “STOP!”

Because God didn’t want Isaac’s life.  He wanted Abraham’s heart.

The obedience, not the sacrifice.

Abraham got Isaac back that day. God’s dream WAS Abraham’s dream. Can you imagine the embrace that followed that relief?  The grateful heart that bent Abraham’s knees to the ground in humility and new-found faith?

So here it is, Jesus.  

My dream.  That thing that I want so badly it literally hurts.  I gently, and with great trembling, lay it down in that place where you can do what you want with it.  That vulnerable place with my axe in the air.

And I cry in this “altar”ed state of mind.

You may tell me “stop” and give my “Isaac” back.  Or you may require me to sacrifice my dream for Yours.  And if that is the case, then I will willing continue to sacrifice until our dreams line up.

Because you don’t want to kill my dream.  You want to win my heart….

1 Samuel 15:22 – 

But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.”

Matthew 26:39 – And going a little farther Jesus fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

 Genesis 22 – 

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.  Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.  But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So 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.”

 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

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