Two events took place this week in our family. Our middle son celebrated his twelfth birthday. This means that the two us of will begin to develop his journey to manhood. I have no idea at this point what the journey will look like. We have had an initial discussion on the subject, but have not reached any conclusion other than the fact that a journey we will take. The second event cannot be talked about, but prompts a very important life lesson. Have you ever had a defining moment in your life? The kind of moment when you knew in the depths of your being that something radical had to be done or else something radical was unavoidable? Defining moments are what separate us from an ordinary existence. They confront us with decisions that cause us to reach deeper within ourselves than we thought could be reached. I have noticed in the news of late that there have been a number of defining moments in people’s lives from sports figures to international leaders. The truth is that not all defining moments turn out on the positive side of things. I recall a story in the Old Testament when Israel’s first king could not find an answer from the Lord regarding a particular battle his army was about to enter into. It was a defining moment. What do you do? Do you wait until the Lord shows up before going into battle? Do you send a message to your enemy that you are not yet ready to fight and that you will get back with him? These are tough decisions. Israel’s king decided to take another course of action choosing witchcraft—divination to be exact—to find his answer. Needless to say that the king of God’s chosen people consulting a witch about an answer did not set well with God. The Israelites not only lost the battle, they lost the sacred chest of Moses, their king and his son. It was a defining moment that did not go well. It did however set the stage for another defining moment in another individual’s life—David; but that is for another time. Defining moments reveal things about us. It isn’t a bad thing when they reveal wrong rotten negative things about us. That in fact is a good thing. It is better to get it in the open so you can deal with it and get beyond it. However since we have been made in the image and likeness of God given the ability to make our own choice, we can make the wrong decision. This is what happened to Israel’s king. The story has a deeper lesson to learn, but it isn’t the focus of today’s post. The focus of today’s post is when those defining moments come and we choose to make the correct decision. Another story comes to mind with a very serious set of circumstances. In fact from the outside looking in, you would scream that the right decision was certainly not the decision made. The story goes like this. One morning the old man Abraham wakened and headed out to his usual place to spend time with Jehovah. This morning seemed different. The very air seemed alive. The scenery was magnificent as Abraham walked with a spring in his step to the meeting place. However, this meeting was to be different. There was little doubt that Abraham was unprepared for what would happen this day. There had been times when the two spoke face to face; then times when the prophet simply knew the voice that echoed throughout his being was that of his Lord. This day Abraham knew that very familiar voice of his Master. What he heard disturbed him greatly though. “Abraham, I have a very important task for you,” the Father said. “Certainly my Lord, what is it you would have me do for you?” was Abraham’s answer. “Abraham,” the Father spoke softly, “I want you to take your dear son Isaac and travel to a place to offer him up as a sacrifice to me.” The Father’s voice was soft, yet firm. Abraham stood stunned. “When do you want me to do this thing Master,” was his muttered reply? “You are to leave at first light tomorrow,” the Lord said. Abraham left heading straight for the camp to where his son would be. He began calling Isaac’s name as soon as he saw him in the distance. “Isaac, Isaac, come here boy,” Abraham shouted. Isaac ran to his father asking him what he wanted. Abraham reached out grabbed his son drawing him closely to his chest and hugged him intently. Isaac had no idea what to make of such a hug. He knew his father loved him, but to embrace him like this was most unusual. After a few moments Abraham put his hands around Isaac’s face looking intently into his eyes saying, “How about we take a little trip tomorrow? You and me,” the old man said! “Where are we to go father,” came the boy’s reply? The Master has asked me to offer a sacrifice to him on a mountain not far from here. We will leave at first light,” Abraham told him. Abraham did not talk much over the course of the next three days. He gave instructions to the servant’s traveling with him as well as those who would watch over his affairs in the camp. Beyond that Abraham said little for he was in deep thought. Once they arrived at the site, Abraham took the necessary items for the sacrifice—except for the lamb to be offered. As they walked up the path to the place to make the sacrifice, Isaac asked a very important question. “Father, where is the lamb that we are to sacrifice?” His father simply said, “Son the Lord will provide.” Once at the site, the two of them went right to work preparing the altar for the sacrifice. As soon as it was completed Abraham wrapped his hands around his son’s face and with somber sincerity said, “Son, do you trust me?” “Of course I do father,” came the boy’s reply. “Good,” said the old man. “I need you trust me now and not say a word as I do what I must do,” he said in broken tones. Abraham bound his son placing him on the altar. He then raised the knife over his head and began to lunge it into the boy’s chest. At that precise moment Abraham heard his name causing him to turn. The knife missed the boy. He looked and saw a ram caught by his horns in a thicket behind him. He heard the voice of the Lord tell him not to harm the boy.
Talk about a defining moment. What would you have done? How could that have possibly been a God idea in the first place? Who in their right mind would have even given such a preposterous thought enough merit to take it that far in the first place? The answer is Abraham would. There are far too many thoughts about this story to put down in this post, but please understand the importance of defining moments and our choices in them. Abraham could have most defiantly said “NO,” at any point along the journey. We understand from the New Testament writers that the reason he did not say no is that he had settled it in his mind that if his God wanted Isaac, (the promise he had waited 25-years to receive) dead, then he could most certainly raise Isaac from the dead. WOW! That is insane faith. I guess the question is how do your defining moments compare? Perhaps we can find comfort in the fact that if Abraham could make the right choices in his defining moments, that we can make the right choices as well.