Encouragement for Today
Lysa TerKeurst, President of Proverbs 31 Ministries
Genesis 22:2, “Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.’” (NIV)
Has God ever asked you to give up something so precious to your heart that you just could not do it? It seems that often we get so close to the realization of something great that our hearts long for, and then we are put in a position where God asks us to either give it up or simply have it taken away from us without warning. This type of death is a common reality in our journey with God, as He continually teaches us about obedience and surrender to Him.
I fully believe that God had Abraham walk this journey to see which came first in his life – his dream or his God. Shortly after God granted Abraham with his dream in a long-awaited son, Isaac, God called Abraham to give him up. The dream was just about to be fully realized, and now death loomed on the horizon.
Like Abraham, being asked to give up our greatest blessings in life is difficult and often painful. It’s easy to be asked the question and then be tempted to give a quick answer like, “of course, God, I’ll do it…”, then quickly move past the uncomfortable issue without giving it the full thought it deserves. This is serious business to God. We quickly take possession of our hopes and dreams, and we don’t want to ever give them back. Like a self-centered two-year-old, we scream, “Mine. Mine. Mine!” God can never let that be the cry of our hearts because our hearts must beat in tandem with His. The only way for this to happen is for us to constantly take our dreams, desires, and joys in life to Him with open hands and willingly declare, “Yours. Yours. Yours!”
Abraham’s dream to be the father of a great nation was God’s dream first. God is the author of your dream as well … and the perfecter. Our job is not to figure it all out, manipulate it into being, make the contacts, guard it fiercely, and stake an unwavering claim on it. God started it. And God is faithful and more than able to finish it.
So, whether you are holding tightly to a dream in your life – buying a house, exercising control over your children, holding your marriage together for dear life, starting your own business, birthing a ministry – or watching one die right before your eyes, like Abraham - believe that God will provide for every twist and turn in the road.
Abraham did not hesitate. He believed God even to the point of death. He got up early and made God’s command the priority of the day. I’m sure, though his feet walked obediently up that mountain, his heart ached for reassurance. Somewhere along the journey, I believe God gave him assurance that He had it under control. As he took Isaac up to the altar, he said something surprising to the servants he left behind: “We will worship and then we will come back to you,” (Genesis 22:5). His faith wasn’t just wishful thinking. See what happens next:
“Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place, ‘The Lord Will Provide.’ And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.’” (Genesis 22:13-14, NIV)
How about we take our hopes and dreams - in the works and broken - to the mountain of the Lord? He may call us to let it die for good, but He is also more than capable of resurrecting it as well. The Lord Will Provide in His sovereignty.
My Prayer for Today:
Heavenly Father, as You know my hopes and desires in this life, lead me according to Your perfect will. If there is something I will not surrender to Your control, will You take control in my place? Bring me to a place where, if You ask me to give up something that I love, I will not refuse You. I trust that You will provide and that You will resurrect, be it in this life or the next. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
- Make a list of the things of which you are dreaming. These may be material objects, a job or career move, a husband, a child, a life change that is desperately needed, etc … Whatever it is that you have your heart set on in this life, make a list of each of them.
- After you make your list, write down beside each one how you are handling it. Are you controlling the circumstances surrounding it? Are you dealing with each one in a healthy, appropriate way? Are you consistently in prayer about it asking God for direction and then following it as He gives it to you?
- Would you be willing to take each one to the altar, laying it down as a sacrifice before God? Can you see yourself visually placing it on the altar, knife in hand, ready to give each one over to death if asked to do so?
If you cannot answer “yes” to question #3, I challenge you to pursue coming to a place where you can, in fact, give it up for death. If you can say “yes,” spend some time mourning the loss of this dream as a way of preparing your heart for all that God has in store as He provides a replacement for the loss. For God’s Word says that He will bestow on us “A crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair” (Isaiah 61:3, NIV).
Hebrews 12:2, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (NIV)
Proverbs 20:24, “A man’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?” (NIV)
What Happens When Women Walk in Faith, by Lysa TerKeurst
Dreams of a Woman, by Sharon Jaynes
Dreams of a Woman (1-tape set), by Sharon Jaynes
Originally published Wednesday, 31 August 2005.