Friday, May 8, 2009

From Theory to Practice

Believing in the theoretical is not so difficult. Most people do well when it comes to believing in a future possibility. Faith is safe from a distance. However, when theory moves into practice, now it costs something...not so easy anymore.
Abraham and Isaac are a good example. What must it have been like the day Abraham and his son travel to the Mountain of Moriah. Abraham had been asked by God to do the unimaginable. Take his only son, the promised son, and present him as a sacrifice. How could Abraham even bring himself to get up early that morning and prepare for that agonizing journey?
The New Testament gives us the answer. Abraham had developed a theory. Since God had promised the build a great nation from the decendents of Isaac, and now God has asked him to sacrifice his son before a single decendent had been born, then in order for God to be faithful to his promise, He must intend to bring Isaac back from death (Heb 11:17-19). What a odd explanation, but it was the best he could do and it was enough for Abraham to get up that morning and begin the journey of faith.
Each step must have been increasingly difficult as it moved Abraham from theory to practice. Its one thing to imagine what God might do...its quite another to walk in obedience in order to experience that reality.
And yet, even as they arrive, His faith remained. Abraham instructs his servants to stay with the donkey as he and his son travel up the mountain. "Wait here" he says, "Isaac and I are going to worship together and Isaac and I will return." (Gen. 22:5)
At some point, Abraham had to explain the events to his son. "Son, let me first tell you that I believe God is going to perform a miracle today. In ways I cannot explain, He is going to provide the lamb for a sacrifice. But for you and I to experience that reality, we are going to have to put our faith to the test. Do you trust me my son? More importantly, do you trust our God?"
Isaac's face grew pale as his father's theory was explained. Abraham too must have grown faint at the thought of seeing his son's blood drip from the knife he now held in his hand. But yet they each fearfully continued to take heavy steps of faith. Without a struggle, Isaac allows his father to bind him with rope and lift him to be placed on the altar.
Everything is theory until the moment of final obedience. He pulls the knife from its sheath, lifts his hand in the air, and cries out, "Oh, God is there any other way?!" His son, staring into the eyes of his father says, "Daddy please!"

In that agonizing moment, the fruit of obedience gave birth to the miracle. The angel of the Lord answered both father and son and the sacrifice was made in a way neither had planned. God made His way. Abraham and Isaac worshipped together. Abraham and Isaac descended the mountain transformed by the miraculous.

Steps of faith are increasingly difficult as they move us from theory to practice. Faith is safe from a distance. I understand this today more than ever. But obedience is the perquisite for the miraculous. Each step of faith, as we walk from theory to practice, deepens our understanding of God and transforms our assumption of "what He might do" into the reality of "what He has done". It is from this vantage point that we can say with experienced conviction, "He is able to do immeasurable more than we can ask or imagine" (Eph 3:20). I pray that we increasingly experience this reality through faithful steps of obedience. May I live it even as I write it.

...To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

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