I have often pondered the question: What does God find irresistible? In other words, what attitudes and dispositions in man is he the most drawn to? Yes, I recognize that man is basically sinful and alienated from God. Still, the fact remains that God had to start somewhere as he began his plan of redeeming mankind. What characterized the key people he chose? One cannot consider such a question without taking note of two people who evidently captured God’s attention, one man and one woman.
Abraham, of course, is the man who uniquely captured God’s attention in the Old Testament. In a sense you might say that it all began with Abraham, especially with regard to Israel’s history. This man exhibited such a faith in God that it was credited to him as righteousness. The entire book of Romans, as well as the Protestant Reformation led centuries later by Martin Luther, was predicated on the premise of his life: “The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17).
Abraham lived by faith, and God noticed. When the Lord commanded Abraham to move to a land he did not know, Abe packed up and followed without a map, without any specifics, simply on the basis of a word. . .but not just any word, the Word of God.
When the Lord spoke and told Abraham he and his wife would have a son, Abraham trusted. But when that miracle son came, God called Abraham to take Isaac to a mountain and there to sacrifice him, to give him back to God. Just before the knife pierced the promise child’s flesh, however, the angel of the Lord stayed his hand. What Abraham was about to do would not seem logical, prudent or beneficial by human standards. He did not obey because it made sense but because God had spoken. I believe God finds such faith irresistible, such response to his Word and his will, magnetic.
As a result of Abraham’s faith, God promised to make him the “father of nations” and to make his seed like the stars of the sky and the sands of the beach (Gen. 15:5).
Abraham’s counterpart in the New Testament would certainly have been Mary, the mother of Jesus. Just consider: What was it about Mary that caused the Lord to choose her womb to bear his only begotten Son? Why was she among all women so highly honored?
Mary had an Abraham-like faith in the sense that when God spoke, she obeyed. Obedience is the key to the heart of God. Consider the conversation the Lord had with Mary when he brought news to her that she, a virgin, would bear the Christ child (Luke 1:26-38). Her reluctance was one of logic and natural confusion. She wondered how she could bear a child since she had never been with a man.
When the Lord made it clear that the Holy Spirit would cause her to be with child, Mary accepted the Word of the Lord and celebrated the fact with her famed Magnificat. Her words of response are full of faith: “I am the Lord’s servant! Let it happen as you have said (Luke 1:38 CEV).” Her response to God’s command was quick and simple.
Surely Abraham and Mary were clay in the strong hands of the Lord. To understand that, you have to be aware of a few things:
You have to know what they had. Abraham and Mary had this in common: What they both valued most was a son. Both of these sons had been promised by God and were much anticipated at their arrival. Mary was quite young when Jesus was born, probably a teenager. Abraham, on the other hand, had waited 25 years for the fulfillment of God’s promise.
You have to know what they heard. “Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.’” (Gen. 22:1-2)
In Mary’s case, on the eventful day of her son’s dedication in the temple the exultant priest, Simeon, took pause as he cautioned her: “And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 2:35b)
The compelling factor behind Abraham’s and Mary’s faith was a voice, the Voice of God. He had called them to surrender the person who meant the most to them. They chose to obey rather than to wrestle with God and his will.
You have to know what they handed over. Abraham watched his young son climb up on an altar. Mary watched hers laid across the beams of a cross. Abraham in obedience raised a knife to slay his son. Mary felt a sword pierce her soul that day at Calvary. Both were surrendering the one who had meant the most to them, their beloved sons.
These dark events echoed the surprising emotions of another Parent handing over his son: “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and to cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilty offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his land.” (Is. 53::4-6, 10)
Our faith is exhibited by our yieldedness to God. Ask yourself…What do your actions tell you about your faith in God or lack thereof? Does your faith show up in your words? Does it show in your use of the resources God has given you? What has your faith led you to surrender? What is it that God is calling you to surrender to him in this season of your life? Your wife? Your husband? Your children? Your hobby? Your career? Your dreams? Your treasure?
Jeanne Guyon referred to the life of faith as one of abandonment. . .
Become abandoned by simply resigning yourself to what the Lord wants, in all things, no matter what they are, where they come from, or how they affect your life. What is abandonment? It is forgetting your past; it is leaving the future in His hands; it is devoting the present fully and completely to your Lord. Abandonment is being satisfied with the present moment, no matter what that moment contains. You are satisfied because you know that whatever that moment has, it contains – in that instant – God’s eternal plan for you.