Monday, December 22, 2014

The Test---Genesis 22:1-2---Making the Invisible God Visible

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."  
- Genesis 22.1-2 | ESV
We so hate tests.
Especially those tests we didn't even know we were preparing for, that rise up out of nowhere, waylaying us, upending us, undoing us, spinning our life into unrecognizable, unmanageable, uncontrollable chaos. We so like control. Cruise control is fantastic. No worry about the accelerator of life. It's set at the comfortable pace we desire so we can keep a light touch on the wheel as we take in a beautiful horizon while listening to Bobbie McFerrin singing "Don't Worry, Be Happy." Then suddenly you're on an icy road with another driver sliding towards you - and you know nothing's gonna stop him.
Tests and trials are like that.
Here Abraham was. Nearly four decades of long waiting behind him. Decades filled with his share of famine, family strife, warfare, conflict navigation and resolution - and always in the background the interminable wait for the child. And now he's here. The desire has come, the tree of life has bloomed in this desert land. Family conflict has receded over the horizon with the departure of Hagar and Ishmael. Now, peace. Sabbath. Rest. Ahhhhh.
And now the test.
The rabbis compiled a list of ten tests that Abraham faced in his life, tests that are bookended with two summons to "Go on, get going." Lekh lekha. Those dreaded words. The first time they summoned him to leave his homeland. This time they call him to take his son on a journey of no return. The doubled expression Lekh lekha implies "going" on two levels: inward and outward. The question: had Abraham's outward going resulted in corresponding inward maturity? That's what any test does: it exposes the inward mettle of our soul. "Test" (or "tempt") in this text translates the trilateral Hebrew rootnun-samech-hey. Three letters painting a simple picture in that ancient Semitic alphabet of pictures representing sounds: life-thorn-look. Throw a prickly thorn in the midst of life and then see what happens - on the inside and on the outside.

Oh yes we hate tests...
What test are you currently facing - or what was the most recent one you faced? What happened?
What did the test show?
Lord, you have taught me to pray "lead us not into temptation." So I pray that. I'm perfectly fine with this being a "no testing zone" today. And in such down times that I may be graced with, prepare me for the next test that rises up out of nowhere. Teach me to lean deeply into you in such "no testing zones" of life - so I may be ready to do the same when the test comes. Again. Through Christ.

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