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When God comes to give you and me instructions, where do we need to be? Front and center, available and attentive. That’s what we find in Abraham’s next interaction with God. The text tells us God’s purpose, to test Abraham. So God calls his name, “Abraham!” Abraham’s interaction – his prayer to God – “Here I am,” right where I need to be.
In order to arrive at the desired end of a journey, there are many things that must happen first. If it is a road trip as we’ve grown accustomed to road trips, there needs to be a destination and a route planned; a path chosen, and a vehicle prepared. You estimate the time and the costs. God in His wisdom has planned out our lives, and He had a critical, distinctive purpose laid out for Abraham’s life. In fact, success in the fulfillment of Abraham’s journey has much to do with the coming of a Savior and our faith in Him! This testing, or proving of Abraham was an essential part of that journey. It’s a good thing Abraham was right where he needed to be.
Abraham’s journey included a test. Not a test that would provide God with more information. But a test that would actually develop Abraham in ways that could only be accomplished through the test. And it is excruciating. “Abraham, take your son, your only son, – you know, that son that you love so much – and sacrifice him to me.” Ethical dilemmas abound, but Abraham was to leave it up to God to solve the ethical dilemmas, and prove that he did not place love for son above love for God, that he had not exchanged the worship of the Giver for worship of the gift; that he was not in fact idolizing his son at the expense of properly worshipping the one, true God.
If Abraham had known what God was about to demand, would he still have responded “Here I am”? Would you? Which is why we decide the issue ahead to time – that we will be front and center, available and attentive, at all times, starting now, independent of whether the instruction is comfortable, or impossible.
But the more striking prayer is not the “Here I am” of the hearing (Genesis 22:1). It is rather the “Here I am” of the doing (Genesis 22:11). By this time, Abraham has saddled his donkey, gathered the firewood, taken his son and travelled to Mt. Moriah, built the altar, bound his son, and raised the knife. It is then that God once again calls “Abraham!” He says, “Here I am,” taking his son in his arms, with God firmly fixed in his heart, right where He needs to be.