For most of my life I felt uneasy about the story of Abraham and Isaac. (Genesis 22)
It seemed too close to home, too much like the God I felt I experienced but different from the God I was meant to know.
Whenever I read it I saw a God who gave much wanted answers to prayer and then asked his follower to give those beautiful things up to prove to God how much Abraham love God. That proving to God that you love him only comes from giving up dreams, possessions, relationships, people you love. That God is a God who gives you just enough to know that He can bless you if He wanted too, before He takes it away so that you focus back on Him and not the things He made.
And before you email and say 'that's not what God is like' - I know that. I know that the God of this story is the same one who at the last minute gave Abraham a ram to sacrifice instead. It's the same God who said “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:9-10)
We studied Genesis at Bible study a few weeks ago. And we read Hebrews 11:17-19 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
And I realised that yes, God tested Abraham. But maybe the story was more about Abraham clinging too God's promises. That Abraham believed that even though he didn't understand what is was that God was doing, he believed God would keep His promises, he believed that God had good purposes for whatever would happen. That the story wasn't about God taking away things, but God showing His faithfulness.
I still didn't love the story. But I felt less uneasy about it.
The above was written a few weeks ago. I was excited about the new way of looking at the story I hadn't been taught before. But then part 2 happened.