I’m using a variety of resources for devotions these past couple months. Today, two of them recounted the story of Abraham and God asking him to sacrifice Isaac.
Isaac represented the culmination of decades of patient waiting by Abraham – a beloved son, through whom God promised Abraham would come descendents to numerous to count.
In A. W. Tozer’s “The Pursuit of God”, Tozer comments that it’s possible that Abraham had let Isaac become a sort of idol, through everything that Isaac represented to Abraham, the culmination of a promise from God, hopes of decades of waiting and even a place in the messianic dream. Tozer posits that the relationship between Abraham and Isaac bordered on peril, and that is the reason God put Abraham’s faith to the test.
At the end of each chapter in “The Pursuit of God” is a prayer that Tozer lays out, and I’ve found them challenging, but this one in particular is hard to pray.
I quote from Tozer: “Father, I want to know Thee, but my coward heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
As I read through that prayer (changing out the ‘Thous’ and ‘mayests’ and ‘wilts’ for their modern equivalents), I also was asking God if I had any toys which had become too precious to me. As I was asking that, I looked up from my reading of the prayer that what did I see? I was looking right at a couple of my guitars in their cases leaning up against the wall. “Dang!” I said to myself – “God, why did you have to be so direct?” I have tried to talk myself out of the fact that these things have become precious to me, in that I’ve always been frugal and saved up to buy a guitar, didn’t spend a ton of money on them, etc. However, I enjoy playing them immensely, and the thought of them going away – I will admit – makes me quite sad. Just sharing this is somewhat embarrassing, but I bet amongst my worship band compatriots, I’m not alone.
I’m not saying that enjoying playing guitar is wrong, or having guitars is wrong, but where do these things line up in our priorities? Would we grieve more for a loss of these things than we are doing for our Christian brothers and sisters that are being persecuted today for their faith? Never before has it become so clear to me, that a ‘thing’ needed to be placed on the altar. I’ve perhaps been guilty of putting my love for other persons; my wife and kids; ahead of my love for God and I’ve asked for forgiveness for that – but that is almost considered o.k. by the Christian community – we look down our noses less at that type of error than putting things before God in priority. When it came down to it, I realized that I would grieve deeply if either of those two guitars, my ‘regulars’ were to disappear. I don’t have a giant stable of guitars, a couple others, but these I hold dear – perhaps too dear.
I was quite convicted right then and there and asked for forgiveness from God for making tools with which I serve Him, perhaps more precious than the desire to know Him more.
God, I want to know you more. Help me to look only to You for my satisfaction.
By the way, “The Pursuit of God” by A.W. Tozer is available for free download at manybooks.net. I’ll make it easy for you – here’s a link: http://manybooks.net/titles/tozera2514125141-8.html