Have you ever thought God asks too much of you?

I must admit there are times when I think so.  The pressures of ministry means I often go to bed of a night burdened with the thought of so many uncompleted tasks.  Here God seems pretty tough.

Then there are the tragedies of life.  We constantly bear witness to the hope we have in Christ.  Yet there is so much sorrow.  There is so much grief.  It’s hard to keep the candle burning in a world where darkness impinges on so many aspects of life.

Today we read a most difficult passage from Genesis.  Abraham is summoned by God to take his son, Isaac, and offer him as a sacrifice.  It’s an unbearable, insufferable thought.  I can’t think of anything worse or indeed, offensive!

My first thought is that God is really crossing the line here.  God is simply expecting too much.  God’s request, indeed God’s demand on Abraham is unreasonable and improper.  Its way beyond what we would expect from a God who is love!

So what do we make of this story?  Should it even be in the Bible?

I believe we should always approach scripture with an open, enquiring mind.  Moreover, we need to constantly listen to God’s voice and look for a word of hope no matter how hard, confusing, or even offensive the text may appear to be.

In this case I believe we are confronted with the truth that says life is unfair.  Life is difficult.  Life is confronting with often impossible demands.  And, in all of this, God first appears to be either insensitive and uncaring at best or compliant and liable at worst.

But if you read the story carefully you will see that a substitute for the sacrifice is provided.  A ram, which is caught in a thicket, is offered in Isaac’s place.  And here we see that even in the very worst of situations, God provides, God offers a way forward.

I really do not understand why God confronts us with so many dark moments.  Indeed, I struggle with the way God pushes us to the edge.  But I am assured God is always there.

God is always there to catch us, to pick us up and to offer us a way forward.

This was Abraham’s experience.  I pray it will be yours.

2 July 17