Friday, August 20, 2010

to be isaac

I picture a young boy who was so excited to be going on an adventure with his Dad one morning. They hiked up a mountain, and Isaac was probably jumping around and asking his Dad all sorts of questions about what they were going to do that day, and meanwhile, Abraham must have been so solemn and heartbroken as he thought about what he was about to do. I wonder if he felt guilty for explaining away the absence of a lamb. When they got to the spot where they would normally sacrifice a lamb, Abraham must have been shaking so hard as he asked Isaac to get up on the rock. I wonder if Isaac was afraid when Abraham started to bind him to the rock. And what must Isaac have been thinking as his dad lifted a knife above his head? Did he understand what was about to happen? Did Isaac hear the angel telling Abraham not to harm him? I wonder what it must have felt like for Isaac after they sacrificed the ram. Did he have trouble trusting his father, who almost killed him? And did Isaac question what kind of God would ask his father to kill him?

You see, I understand that Abraham got to experience how faithful God is through this act of obedience, but what did that mean for Isaac? Would he have been able to understand that Abraham was just doing what God asked him to do? And even if he could understand that, would that have been enough to give him peace?

There had to have been more to the story. I believe that because when you are dealing with people, there is no such thing as a clean break. It's one thing if God is asking you to get rid of your TV or block youtube because of struggles with lust or something like that; obedience, in those cases, is something altogether different from ending a relationship with someone.

I bet Abraham wrestled with God over a zillion questions when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac. But Isaac didn't get to go through the same process, so he had to process his questions afterward. I wonder if Abraham had to give him the short explanation, due to his age, and wait to give him a deeper explanation when he got older.

I'd like to think that our obedience to God would leave everything with a clean break--that when God asks someone to do something, it wouldn't break the other person's heart or leave them with so many questions that they don't know what to do with. But that's just not always the case. Sometimes you are left, shell shocked, standing in the wreckage of an atomic bomb, looking for anything that's left to salvage. You wouldn't think that the aftermath of someone's obedience to God would hurt so damn badly, but the confusion can be crippling. The fear can make you go hide behind a rock whenever something triggers a flashback.

I wonder if any of Abraham's explanations were helpful to Isaac. I think he was lucky because he had his father there to try to answer his questions. But what if you don't have the opportunity to ask your questions? What if you just want some answers? And what is worse: never knowing the answers, or getting the answers and finding out that they aren't all that satisfactory?

It's confusing, right? Someone binding you to a rock and holding a knife over their head, saying that they are just doing what God asked them to do... what must that feel like? I think I get it. But I guess since Isaac didn't live the rest of his life emotionally crippled (or so I assume), I have to just trust God, whether or not I ever get any answers to my questions.