This post is a little longer than normal. Please bear with me. Think about the story in Genesis 22 where God commands Abraham to take his son Isaac and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on a mountain. This is not just Abraham’s son, but it is the son that God promised him. For sure, this would seem like a confusing command.
However, it may not be as confusing as we might think. If we study Old Testament history, then we will see that worship of the false gods Chemosh and Molek would have led to child sacrifice. For Abraham, maybe this was not such a weird request after all. What we see through the story is that Abraham was willing to do the unthinkable in worship of Yahweh, and God is not like Chemosh or Molek.
God does not want us to sacrifice our children on an altar. He does want our heart though. If you flip over to the gospels in the New Testament, then you will see the type of sacrificial worship that Jesus desires looks like “denying self, taking up cross and following Him”.
The denial of self and the taking up of cross is a challenge. In essence, God is commanding that we put our entire self on the cross so He can “kill” us, and He wants us to trust Him to resurrect what will bring glory to Him.
This is what Abraham did. In essence, he put Isaac on the “cross”, and he trusted that God would resurrect what would bring glory to Him. God spared Isaac, and provided a lamb. God the Father sent Jesus to the cross, and He was resurrected 3 days later. This brought the Father glory.
Taking up cross and trusting Christ for His resurrection is hard, and truly in the end God receives all the glory. The most painful example of this in our lives is when we lost our son Caleb.
I put his picture in this post just because I want everyone to know what he looked like, and when you gaze on him it may possibly give you some insight into our pain.
Caleb was our child of promise. After our 4th child, Jacob, was born, I had a vasectomy. I know that is probably too much information, but it seems I share about every other aspect of my life. I mean I talk about my past struggles with porn for crying out loud. I guess at this point nothing is off limits.
I had this procedure done in 2003. In 2009 God revealed to us that we were to have more children, and he wanted me to get a reversal. I do not have time in this post to share how God revealed, but let’s just say I knew it was from Him. Otherwise, I would not have gone through all that was necessary for us to have more children.
Miraculously, 1 month after this procedure Kelly became pregnant. She carried Caleb almost full term (36 weeks). To date we have no known explanation as to what happened medically. All we know is that his heart stopped beating on 5/10/2010, and he was delivered stillborn on 5/11/2010 at 6:30am.
Why do I tell you this story? Caleb is our Isaac. It may have been normal practice to sacrifice your children to other gods in that culture, but it was not normal for Yahweh. This had to be intensely challenging for Abraham, just like the cross had to be intensely challenging for Jesus, as well as God the Father. I can promise you it was intensely hard for us to walk through the grieving process of losing him, and there are still days it is hard, really hard.
I cannot tell you all the reasons as to why God took Caleb home, but I can tell you that it was for His glory. I can tell you He was with us in the middle of it. After losing him, taking up our cross never seemed so real to us. Here is what I can tell you. Take up His cross. Resurrection will come. He will be with you.
Resurrection has come and is coming in our life. Caleb is in heaven. Our marriage has more depth to it. How we parent and cherish our children is different, especially for me. What we value and more importantly, what we don’t value, largely goes back to the life and death of Caleb Micah. One day we will see Jesus face to face and be reunited with our son.
Challenge: Can we like Abraham, like God the Father, take what is precious to us and nail it to the cross, trusting that God will be with us and that resurrection will come?
The only reason we would ever accept a challenge like this is because the love of Jesus compels us! (1 Corinthians 5:14-15)