Sacrificial Love

"Take your son," God said, "your only son, Isaac, whom you love so much,
and ... offer him as a sacrifice to me."

Genesis 22:2 (TEV)

No other story in the Bible had left me so bewildered as the story of Abraham and Isaac. I could not reconcile God's telling a father to kill his child with the loving and protecting heavenly Father I knew.

One Sunday [in 1982], when it was my turn to read from scripture in front of the congregation, it was again the story of Abraham and Isaac. This time, however, it was very different. As I proclaimed God's word aloud, it came alive for me. With a son of my own, then two years old, I identified so strongly with Abraham that I choked up and had difficulty finishing the reading. I still didn't understand God's test of Abraham, but I knew that it was real.

A year or so later, God called me to do something that jeopardized my job. Answering God's call would not have been so difficult if I had only myself to consider; but I also had to consider the welfare of my son and my three daughters. How much of their life would I sacrifice if I lost my job?

I then understood the test God put to Abraham whether he would put God ahead of everyone else that was dear to him. And I understood that God can put us to the very same test today.

Thought for the Day: God sacrificed his only Son for me.

~ Jim Stoffels
9 March 1991

The above meditation was published in The Upper Room, March-April 1993.

Copyright 2001 by Jim Stoffels

See also the COMMENT at:

Abraham again
Sunday, July 29, 2007

I was lector at the 8:00 Mass this morning. Once again, it was Abraham and me. This time the reading was about Abraham bargaining with God over the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire (Genesis 18:20-32). As happened 25 years ago, I choked up. With August 6th and 9th approaching, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — destroyed by nuclear fire — weighed heavily on my mind. They didn’t have an Abraham to bargain for them with God.

After Mass, a woman told me she was moved to tears by my reading. A few days later, Father Wilmar, who was presiding at 8:00, told me he made a change in his homily for the 11:30 Mass because my emotion gave him a different perspective on where Abraham might have been coming from.