It seems like everywhere I turn I see a message about holding onto God’s promises. My YouTube feed is full of well-intended voices encouraging me to hold onto what the Lord has said, to believe and “press in” to the promises the Lord has spoken and the dreams and visions He’s given. Facebook and Instagram are full of the same encouraging messages.
They speak of God being faithful and true to His word, which I know He is. They warn that the world and the Enemy will come against all God’s promises and throw at us everything they can in order to get us to doubt or deny them, and that is certainly true. They conclude it’s our job to “hold on” and “press in” and keep fighting despite the storms that rage either around us or, sometimes more importantly, inside of us.
And I agree with that. I firmly believe we are to hang onto God’s words and promises with our very last breath if need be. But what do we do when God gives us a promise that reaches down and touches the very depths of our soul… and then promptly hands us a knife and says, “okay, now I want you to kill it.”
Yeah…exactly…not exactly the kind of thing you expect God to say, right?
But that’s exactly what He’s been saying to me for going on a month now. And I wish I could say I feel like Abraham when God made the same request of him. I wish I could say I’m as full of faith and hopeful expectation as Abraham was as he raised the knife over his promised child’s body. I wish I could say I had the same love and devotion to my Daddy even when He says, “Hey Bethany, I know this is the deepest desire of your heart, I know you’ve seen my vision for your future and you know it’s everything you were made for. But right now I want you to give it up. I want you to kill it. I want you to watch it die.”
I mean…yeah…okay. Not exactly the direction I was expecting to get from the Lord. But I feel the question underlying the command is, “Do you trust me, little one? Even with this? Will you give back to me that which I’ve promised you? Do you trust me?”
And I wish I could say I’ve had the sort of faith that doesn’t skip a beat. I wish I could say I had the kind of faith that responds with a resounding “Yes, Lord!” But more accurately, my response to date has been more like, “well…sort of. Kind of. I mean, yes, but not exactly…are you SURE that’s what you want me to do?? I’m not entirely sure I heard you right…I mean, you want me to KILL it?? No, no, I must have heard you wrong. You’re the God of yes and amen, not the God of death and destruction. What did you REALLY say, Lord?”
And that’s sort of where my heart has been…just wandering around this cul-de-sac of “are you SURE?” and then running away before I can get the answer…So I keep walking around and around the same mountain, and He just keeps leading me back to the same place.
There’s an alter here with my promise laying on it and God is handing me the knife and asking me to drive it into the heart of everything I hold dear. It feels wrong. It feels cruel. Yet at each point I hear the Lord whispering to me, “Yes, Bethany. I want you to kill it. I want you to give it to me. I want you to love me and trust in me enough, even if it doesn’t make sense, even if it feels wrong. I want you to love me first, even before your most precious promises from me. Will you do this for me, Bethany?”
His questions pull at my emotions. I know what He’s really asking me is, “Do you love me enough to follow me here? Even to the death of promise?” I want to say yes….I do. But I want my promise too. And I haven’t yet known how to separate the two. I thought God and His promises were a packaged deal – I didn’t know I’d have to choose…
So I bring my heart’s questions to Him. I ask Him, “Jesus, is this really what you require? Do you really want me to give up and let go of every hope and promise I hold dear?” I hear his quiet and gentle “…yes…”
“Why, Lord? Why do you want me to do this? Why do you want them to die? These are all my hopes and dreams!”
I hear Him speak, “Sweet Bethany, had I required Abraham to go through with killing his promised son, Isaac, he would have. And you know what I would have done? I would have just brought him back. Death means nothing to me, Bethany. It only means something to you!”
I admit, I had to spend a couple weeks processing that information, but then He continued, “Abraham knew I loved him so much that he trusted my words even as I asked him to kill his son. Abraham knew even if he killed his promise, that the promise would still be true.”
…had to spend another few days internalizing that…but once it sunk in, I replied, “This is a little bigger than me, God. I don’t feel big enough to do what you’re asking of me. I’m just a girl…a really small, insignificant little girl…and this promise feels like the only thing I have…”
I hear, “Yes, love. I know it feels that way. But you have more than the promises of your heart – you have ME. And I love you so much. I’m leading you to a new place…a place no one else in your family would go and you watched the damage that happened because of that. It wouldn’t have happened if they would have followed me here and given up the idols in their heart – yes, Bethany. They held my promises as idols that they clung to far more than they clung to me and you felt the consequences of that. You asked me to never let you do what they did and I am now responding. So I’m calling you higher, love. I’m calling you beyond yourself and beyond where anyone in your family would go….are you willing? Will you follow me even here?”
And all I can do now as I sit here pondering His words and feeling His loving arms around me…looking at His promises with tears streaming down my face and a knife in my hands…and I say,
“Yes, Lord. I am willing. Be it unto me as you have said. You can have my promises. I love you more. And I’ll follow you anywhere you go.”