My worst nightmare in all the world began to reveal itself when I was served papers to appear in court. The father of my two children was fighting for custody of my son, Nathan. Nathan was at the tender age of 14 when his non-Christian father began to woo him into moving into his home. He was promised many excursions of father-son time together. After much prayer, I knew I could not simply turn Nathan over to an atmosphere where there was smoking, drinking, etc. So I decided to fight it. Surely the Lord would fight my battle. Yet “the battle” my Lord fought for me was of a different nature than I imagined. Ellen White once wrote, “The greatest battle that was ever fought by man is the surrender of self to the will of God.”
The court battle lasted for a grueling 3 ½ days. I was surprised to discover that most of the questions directed at me were about the Sabbath and my “peculiar” religious persuasion. One such question was “Why does your religion forbid your 15 year old son from playing sports on Friday nights and doing what other boys his age can do?” Finally the judge asked my attorney if I would voluntarily give custody of Nathan to his father. I refused. Although things were looking very bleak, I had to trust God.
One day, during the interim of waiting for the court to issue a decision, I felt the weight of this pending decision was overwhelming. I said, “Lord, You’ve GOT to show Yourself strong and mighty and in charge! You’ve got to defend the power of Your Word.” Yet that still, small voice said to me, “Just like Abraham, I want you to put Nathan on the altar.” In my heart I was saying, “No Lord, anything but that.” I wrestled with the Lord until finally He won. With many tears I laid Nathan on the altar. While every fiber of my being was desiring the opposite, I gave the Lord permission to cut those apron strings so I could lay my baby on the altar, trusting Him for the outcome of my calamity. The day I received the news that Nathan would be moving into his father’s home, I never shed a tear. The Lord gave me a divine peace that I knew had to come from heaven. “Sometimes God calms the storm, and sometimes the Lord calms the child in the midst of the storm.” Sometimes “deliverance” is spelled in a heavenly language. I’m convinced it was not God’s will for Nathan to leave our home, yet it was God’s will for me to trust Him unreservedly.
We find the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22:1-9, and here’s the question. Who was really on the altar in this story? Everything that Abraham loved, adored and everything that meant anything to him was on that altar, so Abraham’s heart was the one really stretched out there on that altar. Here Abraham completely denied what his feelings were crying out to do, and instead He submitted to what God was asking him to do. It burned, it hurt, it didn’t feel good, but Abraham demonstrated that he loved Him more than he loved his own feelings.
This is a really familiar story to a lot of Christians today, but there’s a part of the story that is many times forgotten. In Genesis 22:16-18 essentially God says, “I have sworn since you have done this thing, since you showed total, complete, utter consecration to Me that you are going to get deluged with blessings.” The Bible says God is no respecter of persons so what He promises to Abraham, He promises to us too. So “Glorify ye the Lord in the fires...” and for those blessings that are right around the corner, and for those precious lessons we can only learn in the furnace.
Our lives and choices tell the story of what’s really in our hearts... and more specifically Who is in our hearts. Through the different circumstances you face everyday God silently asks, “Are you going to put Me first today?” How about in this situation? Will you stand for Me when there’s a price to pay? Will you trust Me enough to lay what you love the most on the altar?”