From the Archives: January 5, 2010 with an update
That’s the word I got in church on Sunday. Now before I start a heated theological debate on prosperity and God’s blessings, stay with me and think about it. God may not be interested in our happiness because he’s more interested in our growth. (Ouch! Yes, I felt the sting also.)
Trust me, this is a hard pill for me to swallow because as a forty-one year old who’s had her unfair share of life’s unhappiness and disappointments, who’s walked with the Lord faithfully since she was 15. Who’s survived a dysfunctional family and minor tragedies and the seemingly death of certain dreams, all to experience them all over in her adult life, I keep asking myself and God…” How much more growth do I need? Aren’t you finished with me yet? Can I just live the rest of my life being happy? Pleeaase!”
I bet that’s what Abraham thought when God told him to sacrifice Isaac, his son of the promise. The one that would make him a great nation.
Abraham followed God when God was a complete mystery to him and God promised him a son. An heir. Then Abraham waited and waited and waited. “Hello, God, remember me?” He remained sonless, but he was faithful. Even when he became impatient and fathered Ishmael, he was still faithful to God. Still wondering when his dream would come to pass. Still serving… But it took even more waiting and growing for Abraham until he was so old, 100 years, that his dream of doing all the father and son things with his child was nearly dead. But he held on. And eventually the promise was fulfilled.
Why did God have Abraham wait so long? I have no idea. Why doesn’t God give us…me my dreams when I really, really, really want them? I have no idea.
My pastor said something else that resonated with me and I’m paraphrasing “Sometimes God gives us our dreams, but it takes so long, when we finally get them we really don’t care any more and kinda wish he’d give them to someone else…” I’m beginning to relate.
Maybe that’s God’s plan. Maybe God wants us to give up our dreams, to come to a place of faith that even though we want something so bad we yield to him because he knows what’s best even if we don’t understand. Maybe God wants us to love his will more than our dreams and when that happens he may finally give us our dreams…or not. Or maybe, just maybe we need to be broken and emptied of our selves, our wills, our desires so God can move in and through us. Maybe that can’t happen when we’re holding tight to our dreams.
I can imagine what was going through Abraham’s mind when God asked him to kill Isaac, his dream! The fulfillment of God’s promise which he’d been waiting decades for. Despite his fear, doubt, concern, grief and utter despair, he went through with it. He bound his son of the promise, placed him on the altar, and raised the knife to strike.
Inside I bet he was screaming “Why? I don’t understand? How much more growth do I need? Aren’t you finished with me yet? Can I just live the rest of my life being happy? Nonetheless, not my will, but yours be done.”
God was not concerned with Abraham’s (or Isaac’s) happiness, was he? At least not their immediate happiness.
You know the rest of the story. God told Abraham not to strike Isaac and provided a ram for sacrifice. Abraham passed the test, but he was a changed man. His relationship with Isaac was changed and his future was changed. I’d like to believe he was transformed for the better. That he graduated into the fullness of who God wanted him to be. It makes me wonder what would have happened if he refused to kill Isaac. Would the tests have continued? Would God still have loved and blessed Abraham and Isaac? I believe so, but I don’t think they would have fulfilled God’s plan for their lives.
Would Abraham have become the great nation God had promised him one day? Would he have been all that God created him to be? I don’t know, but maybe not.
The one thing that keeps me going when my personal happiness is beyond reach, when my family isn’t picture perfect, when my countless hours of writing never seem to pay off, when my dreams start to fade and I ask God “Aren’t you finished with me yet? Can I just live the rest of my life being happy? How much more growth do I need?” is that God isn’t finished with me because he has so much more for me! More than I can possibly imagine or dream up and even if I don’t understand any of it, I’m willing to wait.
Update Nov 2012
I still hope and cling to the promises above, the only BIG difference today is that I doubt what the will of God is. I doubt that I will know it when it hits me in the face. And I fear I will make the wrong choice…again. Though I try and dream big, I’m also afraid of dreaming big because whatever I seem to dream, God has a different path. Guess that’s parting of walking in faith. Believing like Abraham did, that God will work all things out for good. That is the theme of Digging Up Death, (which hopefully you’ll get to read THIS week…or next!) Maybe I need to read my own book again to get the message!
What is your take on happiness?