I have recently been reading Tim Kellers book Counterfeit Gods. I'm only on Chapter 5 but I thought I would give it a shout out seeing as it is phenomenal! Each chapter looks at a Biblical character and shows the idol that managed to hold captive that persons life till they saw their greatest need- CHRIST! It has rocked my world and caused me to examine my heart and root out those idols that are holding it captive.
"We tend to think that idols are bad things, but that is almost never the case. The greater the good, the more likely we are to expect that it can satisfy our deepest needs and hopes."
How true this is! God daily loads me with blessings and I can take those blessings and think that those things or people are making me happy, rather than realizing the only true fulfillment I can gain is from Christ!
I love how Abrahams story is unfolded. We all remember how he longed for a son in his old age. We see how God blessed him with a good and long awaited gift, Isaac! I have met several women who have LONGED for a child and have not been able to conceive. I see the pain in their eyes when they hold a friend's baby. I hear the sadness in their voices when they talk about how very much they want a little baby to hold and love. I have seen that longing and I can only imagine the joy and gratitude and excitement when the angel told Abraham that he would finally have a child! What a good gift! And then we see the ultimate test of faith when God tells Abraham to take his only son, the one for which he had longed for for years and sacrifice him. Seems so cruel and harsh.
"God was not trying to find out if Abraham loved him (God) . The All-Seeing God knows the state of every heart. Rather, God was putting Abraham through the furnace , so his love for God could finally 'come forth as pure gold'. It is not hard to see why God was using Isaac as a means for this. If God had not intervened, Abraham would have certainly come to love his son more than anything in the world, if he did not do so already. That would have been idolatry and all idolatry is destructive. From this perspective we see that God's extremely rough treatment of Abraham was actually merciful."
And then I love how this story takes the emphasis off the man and points to Christ, the perfect sacrifice!
"Now I know that you love me, because you did not withhold your only son from me. God was not only saying this to Abraham but also to the world! Because years later another Father would walk another "mount" called Calvary with his firstborn and offer Him there for us all."
I looked at the story of Abraham with new eyes. How God knows that I will often place my hopes, happiness, fulfillment and joy in my family. They are good gifts from a loving Father but they are not what satisfies. Christ is! If they were all taken away, Christ is still all I need! Hard words to write.
The last few weeks I have heard tragic stories of loss and illness. A missionary family experiencing the loss of their little 3 year old girl who was killed in a car accident a few days ago. A husband whose wife has a deadly brain tumor and is preparing to die and say goodbye to her 2 toddler sons. So many people we know struggling with cancer. Heart-wrenching stories and stories that pepper my heart with fear and questions about how I would respond if it happened to me. My 7 year old asked me this week, "Mom, does God give cancer. Why does he do that?" I answered with tears in my eyes that He is good and "He gives and takes away- Blessed be the name of the Lord!" He is enough. He needs to be enough because those good gifts could be snatched away any moment and my faith put to the test. I have personally never walked through those dark, deep trials but I know some day I will. And I pray today for strength in the future to say "Blessed be the name of the Lord". I am encouraged as I see believers walking right now through death and illness saying, "Blessed be the name of the Lord." What a reminder to me that- Christ is all I need!