Abraham’s intentions in offering his son to God were good, but it was not the offering God wanted. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” the angel of the Lord told Abraham. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son” (Genesis 22:12). God didn’t want Isaac’s death; he wanted Abraham’s life.

We make a version of Abraham’s mistake. We think that the ultimate thing God wants from us is the sacrifice of death. What God wants from us is the sacrifice through death that enables us to do what Jesus did: sacrifice our lives. The idea isn’t “I am willing to go to death with Jesus,” but “I am willing to be identified with Jesus’s death so that I may sacrifice my life to God.” Nowhere in Scripture does God ask us to give things up simply for the sake of giving them up. He asks us to give things up for the sake of the only thing worth having: a life with him.

God disciplined Abraham to show him the error of his belief, and the same discipline goes on in our lives. The goal is to loosen the ties that constrict the life of Christ in us, so that we can enter into a relationship with him. We may be challenged and disciplined until we finally understand: it is of no value to God to give him our lives for death. He wants us to be a living sacrifice, to let him have all our vibrant, vital powers. This is the offering that is acceptable to God.

Wisdom from Oswald

The root of faith is the knowledge of a Person, and one of the biggest snares is the idea that God is sure to lead us to success. My Utmost for His Highest, March 19, 761 L