Then God said: Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There offer him up as a burnt offering on one of the heights that I will point out to you. (Genesis 22:2)
My teen son, Zack, has an intense addiction to screens. The minute he wakes up in the morning, he wants to know when he will be able to play his allotted time on his electronics. This fixation overshadows everything. On his bad days, it even strips him of his creativity and patience.
It’s a double-edged sword for me. On the one hand, I feed his obsession because I can use it as a motivational tool. That kid would scrub my bathroom floor with a toothbrush if it meant the reward of more screen time. On the other hand, if I hear, “When can I play screens?” one more time, I’m going to jump out a window!
As I struggle with how to manage the issue, I realize I can’t fault him all that much. He’s not the only one with an obsession that he puts first.
Most of us have it: that one thing that occupies our minds even while we’re doing something else. It may be work, social media, some self-indulgent vice, a long-lived pipe dream, or what have you. At times, we fall victim and prioritize it, ignoring what we’re actually supposed to be doing. Or we may have the discipline to carry out the tasks we’re supposed to be doing, but our attention is half focused on that thing we crave.
Abraham and Sarah waited almost a hundred years to become parents. Not only did God finally bless them with a child, but He blessed them with a son. Having Isaac restored their place in society and meant their family legacy would continue on. You’ve got to assume they were pretty obsessed with him.
Yet when God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham sets out the next day to do so. Imagine? Imagine being willing to place your child on an altar as a burnt offering?
In the end. God didn’t require Abraham to actually kill his child. Nor would God ask that of any of us. But I do think He wants us to be willing to give up our obsessions, our vices, our dreams. There shouldn’t be anything in our lives we put before Him.
I think the reason why God put Abraham through this exercise is because He knew Abraham was struggling with his priorities. God’s request forced Abraham to clarify who came first. Once Abraham was willing to put God first, the objective was met, and Isaac’s life was spared. In fact, God was so overjoyed that Abraham truly and sincerely prioritized Him, He blessed Abraham with “descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and sands of the seashore” (Genesis 22:17).
Presuming we will be rewarded like Abraham shouldn’t be our motivation to let go of our obsessions and put God first. But I do think that once we do put God above all else, His will for us takes root, and things blossom.
My job as Zack’s mother is to help him learn correct priorities so things blossom for him. Although I’m not quite sure how to achieve that yet, I do know the first step is to lead by example. If and when I consistently put aside my own agenda and obsessions, and put God first always, I’m very confident He’ll show me how to teach that lesson to my son.
Copyright 2019 Claire McGarry