A friend told me a story today that was very different than anything I had heard before. She described it as her “Isaac” moment. Remember when God told Abraham to take Isaac to the mountain and kill him as a sacrifice? And how – almost unbelievably- Abraham was obedient to God, even though Isaac was the the promise of the future? It is a hard story for most of us, and certainly me, to fully get my head wrapped around. I get that it foreshadows that God DID sacrifice His only son for us, and that we need to be trusting and obedient in the way that Abraham was- but it is so hard to think about the possibility of murdering your own child.
In my friend’s case, it was a different “ask” that God had for her- but a hard one, nonetheless. She was a professional woman with a good career, a few years after graduating from a very prestigious University. She had been a runner in College, and she loved it – and was quite good at it. Once she started working, the running became something she did sporadically – time was much tighter. Her company relocated her to a new city, and although it was her “dream job” she was lonely, without any family or friends nearby. She decided to join a running club, with two goals in mind- one to make friends and one to participate in an overseas meet. She worked in the day, and enjoyed running with her new friends at night.
She made it to an overseas meet – and to her surprise, ran her personal lifetime best. She was spotted by a scout, and was asked to try out for the Olympic team, which she did. To her surprise, she made it. She competed in the Olympics – and then came back to work, and life went on. She felt, however, that God was telling her that this was a talent that He had given her- and like in the parable of the talents, He was asking that she give it back to Him with interest. After much prayer she concluded that God was asking her to really focus on running to prepare for the next Olympics, now a couple of years away.
She took a leave from her (very good) job, with no guarantee that there would be a job waiting for her when she came back. She moved to a new city to work with the coach she felt would best prepare her. She was again alone- but she believed that this was her “Isaac moment”- that God was asking her to give up what mattered to her (the job and friends- security and comfort) and do this for Him, and that is how she thought of it. The training went exceptionally well, and as the Olympics neared, it was clear that she would be a contender to medal. She was ready. But right before the day when she would get on the plane to compete, she had a major accident- and could no longer run in the Olympics.
Most people, I would venture to guess, would feel some combination of anger, bitterness and sadness. The “why me, God?” line of questions would begin. My friend said she had none of that- just peace. She said, “I always knew that my job was to deliver my best for God- but the results were His area, not mine”. She said that she felt great that she was obedient to God in the best way that she knew how to be, so she could regret nothing. The peace and joy with which she describes these events are almost impossible to imagine- but then, so is the story of Abraham and Isaac. As another friend said about this whole situation, “if you aren’t faithful to God, you end up with Ishmael, rather than Isaac” – filled with regret and remorse and “what if”. Knowing that my job is to focus on the process of doing my best, and leaving the result to God is a very freeing way to live life. It was inspiring to get this tangible example to follow.