Saturday, August 31, 2013

isaac and ishmael.

Sometimes God shows you something and you say, "Wow - I never thought of that before" and then you move on. But He really wants you to SEE it, so He shows you again. "Interesting, I was just thinking about that." And you move on. But He still really wants you to SEE it with the eyes of your heart, and not just see, but believe and apply it….so He shows you AGAIN. And you sit there and feel a little foolish for not seeing it before, you might chuckle at yourself, but then you turn serious and really begin to pray and dig deeper to discover the fullness of what He's sharing.

I'm reading through the Bible in 90 days - which sounds daunting, but frankly, it isn't. The reading is *maybe* thirty minutes a day, and it's in great portions so that you don't feel overwhelmed by the text you're reading, but small enough you can still let it sink deep.

On Tuesday, I was in Genesis at the story of Isaac and Ishmael. Ishmael - the firstborn of the flesh, Isaac - second born, but born of the Spirit. I was blessed to be reminded of God's faithfulness to fulfill His promises, even when we are unfaithful. [Genesis 16, 18, and 21] It's a great point for meditation, but God had more for me that morning.

I'm also reading through Leslie Ludy's book Sacred Singleness. I normally read books all at once, reading straight through for hours a day until it's done. Over the summer, I learned the value of taking a little bit of a book at a time, really reading it, and not moving on until I understand and can apply what I read. It's been really sweet to read through this particular book as I'm in a time of just being at home, being still before the LORD and letting Him direct my life as He wills.

So, that particular morning, I was in Chapter 6 "Giving God a Hand" [page 77]. Any guesses on what the sub-title of the chapter is? Isaac or Ishmael. Yup. Let's just say, if I wasn't really paying attention before, I was now.

Leslie went on to lay out how necessary it is to let God truly have the pen of our love life, and not try to "give Him a hand" by taking matters into our own hands and asking Him to bless our attempts. As the chapter unfolded, I saw clearly that this doesn't just apply to my love life (although that is a super important area to turn over to God), but to my life in general.

"Like so many of us, Abraham longed for his own handiwork to be blessed by God, rather than having to wait for God to fulfill HIs promise in His own time and way….but our Lord has something far better in store, if only we will trust Him." - Leslie Ludy, Sacred Singleness

The light was beginning to dawn in my heart, but I was still missing a piece to the puzzle.

It came later that afternoon.

via pinterest
We are fast approaching the fall feast of Rosh Hashanah - Yom Teruah - the Festival of Trumpets - the beginning of the High Holy Days - the special Sabbath set aside for repentance and the casting off of sin in preparation for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

As I was reading up and planning meals for the holiday and thinking about what we could to help the younger children understand more clearly what's happening on Rosh Hashanah. It's a loaded holiday, not only is all that I mentioned above, but it's the Jewish New Year, a celebration of Creation - the "birthday of the world", and one more thing….something I hadn't heard before in my previous years of studying this holiday….it's a remembrance of the sacrifice of Isaac.

Yes, the same Isaac from Genesis. The second born. The promised child. The fulfillment of God's promise.

I knew there were parallels between Isaac and Jesus Christ - the promised children, sacrificed by their fathers, Christ was the substitute lamb for us, just as there was a ram as a substitute for Isaac. But there was one important one I missed.

Isaac carried the wood for the sacrifice on his back the entire way to the mountain. Sound like Anyone else you know?

So I've had all this jumble of thoughts in my mind, not exactly sure what the LORD was trying to get across to me, but praying that it would be made clear in time. In the meanwhile, I prayed daily that I would be truly surrounding my life plans to Him.

Yesterday [Friday], I got a lovely phone call from my roommate from Ellerslie, who's actually still there going through the Advanced program. Towards the end of our conversation, she asked if I had any prayer requests. I started thinking, and the only thing that came to mind was all that jumble about Isaac and Ishmael. It wasn't exactly a prayer request, but I stepped out on faith and started sharing with her what was going on in my heart.

Sometimes it just takes saying it out loud for it all to make sense. As I spoke, the underlying truth shone clearly. The Lord wasn't assuring me of His faithfulness - although He is faithful. He wasn't reminding me of His mercy towards me - although it's overwhelming the mercy He has poured out on my undeserving life.

It was really more of a correction.


I've been home for nearly two weeks. I love being home, I love my family, I love what I do. Yes, there have been challenges - and sometimes it's a struggle just to close my mouth and let the Spirit do His work. But overall, it's been wonderful.

But I've been looking ahead - looking ahead to April (when I return to Ellerslie), looking ahead to Christmas (when I get to see some people I love dearly and miss greatly), and most of all, just looking ahead to whatever I'm home preparing for.

While I was in Colorado, He made it clear I was to come home and live with my family and be trained by the Spirit and by my parents for the next eight-ish months. A preparation season.

Preparation for what?

That was my question. That was what I was thinking about. Instead of focusing on the moment, the day, and the task at hand, my question was always, "What exactly am I doing this for?" And I started looking for an answer.

And Jesus gave me my answer. He showed me, through the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Ishamel, and He has a plan for me greater than I have for myself. Abraham KNEW the promise of God - that he would have a son in his old age. But instead of waiting on God's timing, he took matters into his own hands. Do you know how old Ishmael was when Isaac was born? Fourteen. Fourteen years after Abraham tried to help God out, the promise came. And not only that, God asked Abraham to sacrifice the promise on an altar. By this time, Abraham knew his God, trusted His commands, and followed without question. Just when it seemed like the promise was dashed to bits, God stepped in and kept His Word.

And now, we're moving in the season of Yom Teruah - repentance, leading up to Yom Kippur - reconciliation with God.

So yes, I was being admonished. "You've only been home two weeks, little one, and you're already getting ahead of yourself, getting ahead of Me. Step back, slow down, focus on what I've given you. You don't need to know all the answers. Just be obedient. Repent, die to yourself, draw near, and keep your eyes on Me. Don't pull an Ishmael."

Don't pull an Ishmael, Liza. And that was the prayer request I gave to Morgan.

I'm sharing this with y'all for a specific reason. I don't share publicly everything God's doing in my heart, but I felt that this would be encouraging and helpful, since it's something we all struggle with on some level.

I'm sharing this with y'all because I want you to see something clearly. Consider it a charge or a challenge from me to you. It's pretty simple: listen to God.

You will not know what you're missing if you write off what He's revealing to you as just "nice to know" sort of applies-to-every-one-equally truth. If He lays something your heart, look into it. Dig deep in the Word. Pray about it. Let the Spirit work into your soul, and if it's a command, obey it. If it's conviction, repent. That's how we grow in Him, that's how we see Him for who He really is.

Listen. Obey. Trust.

….and don't, under any circumstances, pull an Ishmael. :)


  1. What a beautiful post and it has been one that has made me really stop and think. Thank you so much for sharing what has been on your heart and I pray that our precious Lord and Savior blesses and guides you!

  2. This is beautiful. And I'm actually in the midst of wondering what exactly God is trying to show me through something that has come up again and again and again this first week at Wheaton. Also something about preparation. And Psalm 37:4 just might be one of my very favorite verses. <3 Kate

  3. Sometimes lately I don't like reading your blog, friend. It's a little too uncomfortable. :} God's using it in me. Thank you for sharing.

    ~ The Ordinary Princess