Dec 29, 2013

Melting into Mt. Moriah: A Story of Performance



I've been reading an incredible Advent devotional, but I'm a little behind.

I'm currently on December 7th. (Okay, so it's almost New Years. Maybe I'm a lot behind.... it's kind of how things have been going lately.)

And I was reading about Abraham and Isaac, staring at the response question - "Name the ways God has provided grace for the gaps in your life" - and thinking, I should just skip it.  I'm weeks behind for crying out loud, and Annika will be awake any minute and I should move on to the next chapter.

But, Sit still.

It's like a whispering conviction from inside: Slow down, reflect on this.

Alright. I somehow feel like I've missed the window of time in which this would have been spiritually significant, but I'll write it out anyways.

I scribble onto lines (and eventually onto the next page and into the margins) how it's now, in these last few months that I'm so aware of all the gaps in my own production and performance. I can feel this laboring. If we're talking in terms of Abraham and Isaac (which suddenly seem to apply so well) then I have been hiking up this mountain, so determined, and God has been letting me do it. 

I am carrying fire and knife, so certain that my labors are up, up, upwards and all of this will eventually peak in my own displays of faithfulness and obedience.

It will be beautiful and God will be pleased and I will be deeply satisfied. It's served me well for years, honestly, but I can feel it now: this striving.

I am pressing on, preparing, preaching to myself - "I believe God, so I will obey him. I love God, so I will trust him."

Onwards, onwards. Upwards, upwards. How long have I been doing this thing?

And about Abraham, he didn't just climb a mountain in his backyard. He traveled for days to reach the land of Moriah.  I imagine it was three days of hurting, sideways glances at his young son.  His only son, his miracle. Three days of swallowing up screams and shutting up doubts. Three days of all that until they reach the place where he loads Isaac's own back with wood for the fire and they head up together.

I believe God, so I will obey him.  I love God, so I will trust him.

Of course, we know the story well but I have to remember how Isaac's father didn't.  How engulfed in relief and praise he must have been when God provided another sacrifice, a replacement.  How much joy flooded Abraham's heart when God handed Isaac's life back to him?

God didn't require of Abraham the terrible thing that he would eventually require of himself.

So, the end of the journey, the top of the mountain, wasn't actually a place where Abraham would display his own faithfulness. When he reached the place of sacrifice, he was prepared for it to be a place of ultimate personal obedience, and instead he actually entered into the shadow of Jesus and his obedience- the ancient whispers of an ultimate sacrifice yet to come.  

This striving of mine, it feels up, up, upwards. And there's plenty of mountain-climbing in scripture. But there's another reality in which all things are moving downward, inward.  Closer to the center. Closer to the ground where I can kneel lowest and realize that none of this is about me or what I've done.

Or what I'm doing. Or what I've yet to do.


I'm not even Abraham, God hasn't called me out and charged me with a task like that.  For whatever reason, I'm just hiking up anyways, because I think I should.  Because I want to go up. And because God is so patient and doesn't laugh at my journey. He just keeps meeting me along the way, grace upon grace upon grace.

And when he meets me, or finds me - brings me out from behind bushes like Eve, I can melt down into this truth that nothing is required.

All has been accomplished. 


There is my obedience, imperfect and failing, with which he is patiently pleased.  But then there is his obedience, in which I can live and move and have my very being.

If I am moving upwards, it is only to be closer to the place where I can kneel.

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