We are constantly laying things down every day. We lay down our cell phones, our cups of coffee or a book we’ve been reading. We go through this mindless process every single day. But, the second we are faced with laying down people or circumstances in our lives, the struggle in our mind begins.
There is a powerful story in the Bible that depicts what it looks like to lay someone down. It’s the story of Abraham and Isaac. If you aren’t familiar with the story, I encourage you to read Genesis 22:1-19 in your Bible. Abraham and his wife Sarah prayed and waited for a child for 25 years. They were very old when Isaac was born. You can imagine how much Isaac meant to them. He was the answer to their prayers and also the answer to God’s promise to them. One day God asks Abraham to take Isaac to a mountain and sacrifice him on a altar. Abraham obeys God. They go to the mountain. Abraham builds the altar and ties Isaac up to be sacrificed. He gets ready to slay his son and then an angel of the Lord intervenes and tells him to stop. (This is a very short version of the story.)
Lysa TerKeurst writes in her book Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed, “No one understands the concept of offering it all to God better than Abraham…When God commanded Abraham to lay his only son on the altar…I am sure Abraham fully expected to plunge the dagger through Isaac. It would be an end…the death of a dream. Yet, Abraham was willing to give up the son he loved to the God who loved him more, and God blessed him…Abraham walked away having experienced God in a way few ever do. God wants to know if we’re willing to give up what we love to Him who loves us more. He desires for us to open our fists and trust Him with absolutely everything.”
Look back at the part that says, “God wants to know if we’re wiling to give up what we love to Him who loves us more. He desires for us to open our fists and trust Him with absolutely everything.” All of us have people we love in our lives. But, what I think we need to realize is the fact that no matter how much we love our people, God loves us more! Take a minute and let that soak in. God loves us more than we love our spouse, our children, our parents, our friends, our families and our special someone.
Abraham waited a very long time for Isaac. I know Abraham and his wife Sarah deeply loved him. Of course we don’t know what Abraham was thinking when God asked him to sacrifice his son and we don’t know what his internal struggle was, but we do know that Abraham was obedient. He knew God loved him. He knew God was faithful and he trusted Him. He knew God wouldn’t ask him to do something that was wrong. I believe this was a test to see how much Abraham trusted God and also how willing Abraham was to give up someone he dearly loved.
As smart as I might think I am, there is someone who is much smarter than me. God has a much better plan than I could ever have. His way is far better than mine. And lately, He has been asking me to come before Him and lay some of my hopes, my dreams, my desires and my relationships down. He wants me to lay them on the altar as a sacrifice to Him.
Let me share a few words from Carol Kent’s book When I Lay My Isaac Down. “At that moment Abraham relinquished his own desires, dreams, plans, and hopes for Isaac’s future and made the sacrifice an act of worship to the God he trusted with a confidence so strong that even if God allowed his son to die, Abraham knew God could raise him from the dead.”
Can I ask you a few questions? Are you hanging on to someone or something in your life with a tight fist? Do you see someone you love going down the wrong path? Are you wildly waving your hands in the air begging to be heard? Are you filled with anxiety over something in your life that you have lost control over?
May I say, “Welcome to the club!” Let me share some words from Carol Kent. “No one I know has been exempt from “faith-tests.” Whether these tests feel brutally incomprehensible, like Abraham’s, or are simply “par for the course” of life as a follower of God, they seem to have at least one thing in common: letting go of control. We get to choose how we will go about this excruciating process. Will we honor God by continuing to love and trust Him regardless of our circumstances, or will we insist on trying to direct the outcome?”
Oh how the struggle is real over “letting go” or “trying to direct the outcome.” I like to think that God needs my help, so I interject my will or my thoughts or my way. Oh brother! Like the God of the Universe needs my help. How silly of me to think that! But, that is what I do. I am learning that I have to daily lay down that person or that issue before God. In my mind, I have to hand it over to Him and ask that His will be done.
I don’t want to be a tight-fisted woman and hang onto things that aren’t mine to control. It makes me miserable. I want to open up my fist and remember how much God loves me. He loves me more than that person or circumstance that I am hanging onto for dear life. His outcome is far better than mine could ever be.
I have experienced a lot of loss in my life. I know that is why I tend to hang on so tightly. And, I am sure there are a lot of you that feel that way too. It’s hard to lose people, dreams, desires and plans that you have. Let me share a few verses with you.
Philippians 3:8-9 “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him.”
I am beginning to realize that I have gained more of Christ through my losses. With each loss, I have gained more knowledge and more intimacy with my Savior. Even though losing is painful, I am realizing that I gain so much more. I have gained intimacy with Christ. You can’t put a price on that!!
Look, it hasn’t been easy for me to get me to this point. It has taken some pretty difficult situations to get me to lay my Isaac’s down. I have been a tight fisted woman! But, I realize I have a choice to make. Do I keep stewing over everything, trying to make things work out, or do I sit down before the Lord and hand each person and situation over to Him?
“Relinquishment is a poignant word. It means “to let go of, to cease to hold in the hand.” It means giving up my rights to control the person, dream, expectation, or preferred outcome of the object of my concern… When we release our grasp, our relinquishment puts a stop to our manipulation of other people and releases the Holy Spirit to do the supernatural through the power of prayer. It’s an act of trusting God when we cannot envision a positive outcome. But in the end, its the only thing that works.” Carol Kent
So, my friends, I am choosing to relinquish my grasp. I am choosing to lay it all down before the Lord, so the Holy Spirit can be released. He is the only One who has the power to change me and the people that I love or the circumstances I am facing. I want to do this because I love Him so very much! It is a sacrifice that I am ready to make.
My prayer for all of you is that you would be able to lay your Isaac’s down. I want you to be able to see God work in your life and in your Isaac’s lives. The Holy Spirit is already working in me through this process and I am sure He will do that for you too!
Regardless of what happens, I am going to trust Him and rely on His love for me. Like Abraham, I want to be obedient to what God asks me to do. Just look at what God did for Abraham because he was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. The blessing from his bloodline was Jesus!! And, God will bless us too!!! May we be able to lay everything down before Him and watch Him work. May we rely on Him to do more than we can even imagine because of His great love for us. Oh, what a joy it is to witness the power of God in our lives and in others. To God be the glory because of the great things He has done and will do in our lives!!!
Until next time my dear friends. This is my journey to joy!!