Throughout Beth’s illness, I often thought of our story in terms of the story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac to the Lord. Could I lay down my child to God in the way He was asking me to do – relinquishing all rights, and her very life, to the hands of my redeeming God? Genesis 22 records this profound account of God’s dealings with Abraham. Abraham passed his testing of faith, God was pleased and provided the sacrifice needed. The deeper we go into this passage, the more lessons we can learn from Abraham, our father in the faith. But the account is ‘light on’ when it comes to information about young Isaac. We have no idea from this passage how Isaac felt about laying down his life. We can only imagine how scared and confused he must have been, but I wonder if there is more we can learn from Isaac’s perspective in the story? Please feel free to read the story for yourself and dwell on these matters with me for I believe this one is absolutely loaded with gold!
Friends, because this story is a ‘forerunner’, a ‘pointer’ to the life and mission of Jesus Christ, the Messiah who was still to come, I think we can ‘read between the lines’ and remain within biblical territory. I have spent some time this week considering Isaac and believe there is nothing to contradict the thought that Isaac willingly laid down his life with a submissive attitude like Jesus. The reason I believe this is for the same reason Jesus willingly laid down His life – because He trusted His Father and obeyed Him in every way! Isaac’s story has the same kind of ‘essence’ to it. There is a clue to this idea in Genesis 22:7 where we get a hint of Isaac’s close relationship with his father.
Isaac must have been perplexed as he was heading off to Mount Moriah (modern Jerusalem) with no sheep for the slaughter in sight. Even at his young age, he would have been quite aware of how the sacrificial system worked. God required blood to cover their sin and the sacrifice of animals was a normal and integral part of his world. “So where is the sacrifice dad?” I wonder if Isaac had a kind of ‘Gethsemane experience’ as it began to dawn on him the will of his father. “Take this cup from me, but nevertheless, your will be done!” One day, I look forward to hearing the story from Isaac’s perspective. I don’t know for sure, but I do suspect that through all his fear and confusion, he trusted in his dad’s love for him and this is why he could obey and lie down on the altar – even though he didn’t understand the bigger picture.
Jesus too trusted in His Father’s love and willingly laid down His life for us and as the sacrificial Lamb God provided as the covering for all sin, for all time. Abraham and Isaac pointed the way and there are countless saints who have also modeled what it means to BE Laid Down. One of them was our Bethany Joy.
This is the week that Beth’s friends have graduated from High School. I try to imagine what Beth would have looked like, all grown up and about to embark on the next season of life. I wonder what her exam results may have been and whether her dreams of becoming a midwife would still be a strong drive in her heart. While these thoughts are normal, it is not good for me to linger on what could have been. It is not good for me to dwell on unrealized dreams and the ‘what ifs’.
The truth is that our Brown Eyed Beauty has graduated and been promoted to the highest place of all! I remember her last public testimony from this time in 2010 and am reminded again that she viewed her life from a different perspective. She challenged us all to BE Living Sacrifices, to BE Laid Down before the Lord. She trusted completely in her heavenly Father’s love – this is how she could surrender all to Him.
I remember that during that week as Beth prepared to give her testimony, I wrote down this quote on her whiteboard…
“THE SCHOOL OF SUFFERING PREPARES AND GRADUATES EXCEPTIONAL SCHOLARS.”
I am unsure where I heard it, but thought it very appropriate for Beth and realize now that her last public address was in fact her ‘graduation speech’ after all. I am so proud of my girl for laying it all down for Jesus and graduating with ‘honors’ – honor in the Lord!
Songs to encourage you:
Lay Me Down by Chris Tomlin
This Life by MercyMe
When Life Gets Broken by Michael O’Brien
A book to build you up:
Refined as Silver – Learning to Embrace Life’s Disappointments by Kay Arthur
PS: Friends, I have come to realize that in my walk with the Lord, I never simply ‘pick up random books’ but that He directs as I come across encouraging resources. For instance, this week’s I came across this precious gem and the chapter I am up to ‘just happens’ to weave together the themes of sacrificial living set out in Psalm 51 and Romans 12 – the very same passages of scripture used this week in Heartbreakingly Beautiful. Coincidence? I think not!
Some words of wisdom on the web:
Will you lay down your life? by Oswald Chambers