We all have dreams, plans, hopes for the future. Whether it’s to have a certain career, get married and have a family, live in a certain place, we all have things that we hope will happen in our lives. Sometimes those things can become such a big deal to us that we begin to lose sight on what’s most important: following God’s plan.
That isn’t always easy. Sometimes His plan and my plan are two entirely different things. Trying to reconcile that can be difficult. A couple of months ago, in November, we had a whirlwind few weeks. On the first day of the month, we found out, rather unexpectedly, that I was pregnant. After a couple weeks of severe pain, hospital visits and prayers, on November 11, we lost our precious baby. In a matter of days, we went from our highest high to our lowest low.
My husband and I are strong believers so you can bet we prayed like we had never prayed before. Every doctor’s visit, every lab, every phone call was covered in prayer. Friends and family lifted us up. We believed for a miracle. We believed that in June we would have this child who would be a living testimony of God’s faithfulness.
Instead we got brokenness, pain and despair.
Sometimes God will ask us to sacrifice things because His plan is better than ours.
Yesterday I was reading in Genesis 22. It’s the story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his long-awaited son, Isaac. Prior chapters detail all that Abraham and his wife, Sarah, went through on the road to having Isaac. At age 75, God told then childless Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. Hard to do when you have no offspring.
After 25 long years, Isaac arrived on the scene in Genesis 21. The next chapter begins with the phrase, “Some time later”. They’ve had Isaac for a while now. He is old enough to be able to hold a conversation with his father. He understands how sacrifices work. He knows that they need wood, fire and a sheep. On this day that God issues this command, Abraham takes his beloved son and two of servants to a mountain. Nowhere in there does it say that Abraham hesitated or argued with God. How many times do we question God’s plan when it doesn’t make sense?
They head up to the spot where he is to sacrifice his only son, leaving the servants behind. He tells them that they are going to make their sacrifice and both of them will be right back. Did he know God’s plan? Nope. Did he see how God was going to provide? Not yet. But he obeyed and believed that if God had promised him to be the father of many nations, through Isaac, then He would provide the sacrifice for this moment.
Abraham gets Isaac prepared on the alter when God stops him at the last moment and reveals a sheep to be sacrificed in Isaac’s place. God provided. He showed up just in time. Later Isaac gets married, has a couple of crazy sons, who then multiply and many, many generations later, we have the vast population of Israel.
God made a promise, but it wasn’t a straight shot.
God has promised me and my husband a child. But it hasn’t been a straight shot. I don’t know if there was maybe something wrong with our baby. Maybe they would have had a difficult life and it would have been better to have them go straight to heaven. I don’t know why my body wouldn’t allow this child to live. God has been working on my heart, asking me to sacrifice my dreams, my ideas, my plans. He wants me to trust Him fully with the things I hold close to my heart. I can’t think of anything closer than being a mom. He wants me not to focus so much on having a baby that I miss this season that I’m in right now. Maybe I’m not a mom right now because there are other people that need my attention. Maybe He has another task for me.
God calls us to follow Him, not His calling.
He may have called you to be a pastor, but you just lost your job at a church. You are still called to follow Him.
He may have called you to be a teacher, but you’ve retired. You are still called to obey Him.
I don’t know what God is calling you to lay down before Him. Maybe it’s a desire that aches in your heart. Maybe it’s a life you so desperately want. I do know that He is faithful and He wastes nothing.
Just like Abraham, once you sacrifice your plan for His, He will provide. He will give you a story to tell of His faithfulness.
The story ends by saying that name of the mountain is changed to “the Lord will provide”, and it’s still called that to this day. What you sacrifice now for God’s glory will affect people beyond this moment.
God will provide far more than anything we are willing to sacrifice.