Wednesday, September 30, 2009

isaac

“Then He said,
“Take now your son,
your only son Isaac,
whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah,
and offer him there as a burnt offering
on one of the mountains
of which I shall tell you.””
Genesis 22:2, NKJV.

Your son
your only son
whom you love:

Take him
tie him down
kill him
burn him

All at the behest
of GOD.

WHAT?

This is carefully designed to offend.

It stands against paternal love
It stands against hope
It stands against what is moral.

There is nothing good in this command
nothing could comply with it
except raw trust.

Our lives are filled
with impossible demands
situations in which every possible option
seems wrong
nothing is what we want
no clear moral option presents itself
all options stand in the way
of our once glorious potential

Yet here we stand
we are cornered
faced with evil choices only

Only absurdity faces us:
either the universe sprang into being
from nothing
uncaused
or
a great intelligence
strange and silent
a writer of crazy stories
put us into this furnace
or
who can know.

All absurd
and yet
here we are.

Take your precious and limited life
your only life
which you love
and go
wash the dishes
do the laundry
pull the weeds
do your work
believe
offer it there.

4 comments:

Jen Stokes said...

OK - this is freaking awesome! Sacrifice of self to live as a servant... takes all the trust I have, and more because I don't live in that state. I go in and out of life being about me, and life being about whatever God wants in the moment... thanks for the inspiration :)

Jim McNeely said...

The truly telling thing is that sacrificing Isaac was not a moral decision. God crafted this to strip it of morality, meaning, hope, down to absolutely raw faith. Perhaps He asks us, at a pivotal time, to take that one hopeful right thing, and slay it. To trudge 3 days up the mountain and deliberately slay our one good thing. Yet, it is our secret love, our trust, our hope in this one thing, that is the one idol that enslaves us; facing this one great loss is the great liberator, the great prover of us, the great maker of substance. Losing our very identity, we become real.

This story is a part of the deep hidden secret part of the human experience. We see science slaying meaning and God yet hoping that somehow morality and meaning will shine through anyway.

Jim McNeely said...

OK, more thoughts: people always get mixed up wondering how Abraham could be certain he heard God. This is not the right question, it never is the right question. As Jesus said, "If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God." It isn't a question of revelation or insight, it is a question of raw will to heed faith.

These are the deep waters that the casual can't fathom, when God asks us to sacrifice what is good, what is hopeful, and our only response can be the raw willingness to believe and obey in the face of apparent terror and ugliness. Of course, every story and every hero and every humble work carries the seed of this.

Isn't it awesome that Kierkegaard saw these things and it served as the intellectual seedbed for a great deal of the philosophy of the modern age? Modernism sacrificed the symbols of beauty, the woman, the Christ, whatever, hoping beauty could rise from the dead ashes of pure form, yet unable to escape the screaming need of everyone to BELIEVE, to love.

We are each shut up inevitably to faith, and it is only in sacrificing our beautiful Isaac, our hope and identity and promise, that we find our freedom and substance.

Jim McNeely said...

Also, thanks for posting Jen, I never really got to know you guys very well but I still really loved you guys and miss you.