From Edified, written in 2006
“God said to Abraham, ’Take your son, your only son, Isaac,
whom you love….Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering….’”
One of the basic principles of walking with God is to hold all we have with an open hand, being willing for God to take and give as He sees best.
Since returning to the Middle East in late July, the Lord has been taking things from us one at a time. First was Freedom’s going to Germany. He has been such a good help in both business and in the church: energetic, insightful, eager to help, visionary and a leader. I had to put him on the altar of my heart, telling God what I wanted (for him to stay), but being willing to accept the opposite (for him to go).
Then there was a period of sickness (health taken for a while), then disappointments in business. Then a larger issue: losing our apartment. The landlord’s son wants to move in; legally we could resist this for at least 6 months, but both of us believe our witness is more important than our rights.
Then while looking for apartments Barbara fell down a full flight of stairs, landing on her face, hitting her head against the marble wall and breaking her right wrist. This was the biggest test for me, as I rushed down the stairs to get to her, seeing blood all over, not knowing if she were dead after hitting her head so hard, or if she had a broken neck, or some other serious injury. Praise God that He protected her from major, permanent damage.
This incident then forced us to give up or postpone a number of planned items (our vacation, Barbara’s trip to see her mother, a trip for business), and brought a good deal of change in our life style for a while (because of her broken wrist, I learned how to put bobby pins in Barbara’s hair, among other things).
Then while helping to lead a small tour on the Black Sea coast, the authorities pursued and interrogated us, leaving us with the threat of investigation, harassment and perhaps expulsion.
Beyond this are happenings in the lives of friends here, which involve us to some degree: terminal cancer, financial problems, persecution, a death in a traffic accident, and other difficulties–things we’d just as soon not deal with, but things God has allowed to come for good reasons known only to Him.
All these events involve giving up: relationships, convenience, desires, what is familiar and secure. But they also involve gaining much more: a deeper surrender, a better understanding of His Word, the opportunity to praise in the midst of disappointment, a greater grasp of God’s character, the opportunity to see Him powerfully answer prayer, the possibility of being a witness to those who watch us go through these times with grace.
These positives were especially true with Barbara’s accident. Very obviously God protected her from permanent damage in the fall; why, then, didn’t He protect her fully by preventing the fall? Barbara answered this question herself: “God is doing something through this that we can’t understand yet. Look at all the new people we’ve met with whom we can now share the Truth!” [Epilogue: also through her fall, we got into contact with the cardiologist who saved me from a heart attack.]
What summarizes all this for us is Psalm 50:23 “He who sacrifices thank offerings [giving thanks when we don’t feel like it] honors me and prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.”
Prayer: Lord, help us each to be people characterized by holding all with an open hand, by praising in all circumstances, trusting you, glorifying you, resting in you. Amen”