When God Takes Your Isaac

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Gentle Reader,

The past couple of weeks have been intense. We are in the process of repainting the entire interior of our house. Everything is a wreck. Two of my coworkers went on vacation at the same time, so every day meant full-on running the second I hit the doors. Chris’ truck went what we feared was permanently belly-up (thankfully, it was just the starter). Then, Saturday morning, I hit and killed a puppy on my way to run a few errands.

Awful.

And underneath it all, I have been engaged in an intense struggle with God.

For some time now, I have been searching for my spot. My place, if you will. Most of the things that I have been involved with in my home church have turned out to be either entirely ill-fitting or what I perceive to be spectacular failures. I thought that I had a certain set of giftings and talents, but I was wrong. I’ll just summarize the whole messy story by saying that I never, ever, ever want to be in charge of a group of adults. Not ever again.

I want to be used by God and I want to be involved, so when the call went out for a glorified bouncer during the children’s Wednesday night Bible study, I figured, “Hey, I could do that.” Lack of my own children has not prohibited me from developing the “mom tone” or the “evil eye.” I have no problem telling kids to sit down and listen. Or shipping them off to their parents if they won’t. Plus, I find kids entertaining. And often much smarter than we adults.

This was meant to be a pit-stop of sorts while I figured out where God wanted me to be. I’ve never been the children’s ministry sort. Crafts are my enemy. Keeping track of snack allergies is exhausting. So, I thought that I’d sit back, lend a helping hand, and wait.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I pinch-taught the pre-K Sunday School class. There were no lesson materials available, so, as the ankle-biters prayed, I begged God for wisdom and His love. Taking a deep breath, I decided that we’d talk about the passage our pastor had preached on that morning.

God has a sense of humor, and it is often ironic.

The kids learned, based on Ephesians 4:7-11, that each person who becomes part of God’s family gets a present, and that this present is given to us so that we can work together and get along. (They also learned about Ephesus and the country of Turkey, which was absolutely hilarious to the under-6 crowd). They learned that even the smallest and youngest of Christians has a special thing that God enables her to do.

The next day, I’m crying. “God, I am so frustrated!” He just let me speak. I think that God simply waits for us to wail it out before getting into it with us. “I don’t know what I”m supposed to be doing!”

He asked me what I wanted. What I really wanted. Not with an audible voice, but with a strong impression upon my soul. I knew that He was asking me to reveal my motives. Not to Him, but to myself.

“I want to be known,” I whispered.

I have long labored under the belief that I have to prove myself worthy of being alive. One lie that the Enemy flings at me time and again, and I buy into, is that I’m not enough. Not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not successful enough. I’m always in this never-ending race to show that I am, in fact, enough. As my logic goes, if I am enough, if I am actually supposed to be here, then I will be noticed. There will be comments. Applause. Some kind of notoriety.

I want to be known.

“I want you to give that up.”

Have you ever had the wind knocked out of you? This was one of those moments. God was telling me, commanding me, to give up my desire to be known.

My response? “I can’t do that.”

IN my quest for validation, being known has become the ultimate treasure. It is THE THING. If I am known, then I am enough. If I am known, then I am worthy.

He brought this up again at work. I escaped to the bathroom, the only place where a librarian can get some privacy. “I don’t know how to give this up,” I said in my heart. “I don’t know where to start. I don’t know how to start.”

God was asking me to lay my Isaac on the altar, only this sacrifice wasn’t going to be saved at the last minute. The Lord was going to kill this desire, this pride. “Is it enough for you to do things for My eyes only?”

How He breaks my heart! I wanted so much to answer in the affirmative, but we both knew that would be a lie.

I thought that I was volunteering to help with the kid’s class, but it turns out that I am there to learn. They don’t care if a lesson is polished. They don’t care if the teacher went to college or not. They don’t answer questions just to hear themselves speak. They respond out of a purity of heart that I am lacking – singing with gusto, enraged at the injustice of starving children, playing with abandon, longing for everyone to know and love the Lord. They don’t stress out about their spiritual gifts, or how and where they are serving, or if they witnessed to that person correctly. Any competition is entirely good-natured, and they always cheer each other on.

They just…are.

They know that God sees, and that His eyes are enough.

My journey to faith. (15)

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6 thoughts on “When God Takes Your Isaac

  1. I love how you are so blatantly honest in your writing – I’ve said that before, I’m sure but it’s true. I too have struggled with the issue that you mentioned. In volunteering at the Center for Women and Children 3x/wk I am able to just “be” with the residents and that brings me total joy! But “being known” was also my “Isaac” until I learned that to love others unconditionally is more fulfilling than “being known” – and that’s ok because it makes the Lord smile!

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  2. I want to be known.

    Um…as what? You think God doesn’t know you? If you mean being known by other people, as in having some sort of reputation or being renowned for something, that’s highly overrated. I mean sure, there’s an ego boost attached to being known or even being some sort of expert at something, but take my word for it, once that happens to you, two things come with it.

    1. You will never get another minute’s peace. People will be hounding you about using your expertise or worse, criticizing you for not living up to their expectations. It never ends.

    2. You will always realize you are never as good as people think you are…and you’re never as bad as people think you are. More than ever, you’ll struggle with who you are and what your intrinsic value is to people and to God. Are you only as good as what you do, or are you worthy just because you’re you?

    If God gives you something to do, then I’d suggest you do it, even if it’s not what you want to do. As parents, we give our kids chores, not because they want to do them, and not even because they’re good at them, but because doing chores teaches them something…not just a skill, but how to engage work that has purpose and value, even if they don’t see it that way. We know it will help them grow and change in a good way, even though they don’t see it now.

    Marie, you have a tendency to beat yourself up and you really need to learn to stop that for your own sake. I’m sure God isn’t as critical of you as you are of yourself. Yes, He tells you stuff like “I want you to give that up.” You’d say the same thing to a child who was engaging in an action that wasn’t good for them.

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  3. Marie, I am with you here except mine is the church I am in. With no other options around, God has us in one of the largest in our area, but I was in more ways than one, sort of kicked out of certain places. Change is not a welcome attribute especially when the ideas may be better than what is being used but don’t upstage anyone. So, I continue on as I sense God is saying: If you can make a difference in someone else’s life, by helping, encouraging, offering food or supplies, or to just be there for one hour, it is all worth it, no matter what you are doing.

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    1. This is a real battle of mine, this desire for applause and recognition. Thank you for reminding me that it’s always worth it to obey God, even and maybe especially when His eyes are the only ones to see it.

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      1. Marie, part of this is simple maturity; whether that be in age or spiritually. I am to the place where I could care less what people think of me which is good because due to my faith many hate me now. God in his extended grace and patience taught me he is all that matters. Ask yourself; when you are in dire straits who will show up?

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