Tag Archives: blessing

12: Testing, Testing.

12 testing testing ram wiselywoven MF

“Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love–Isaac–and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” Genesis 22:2 NIV

God gave this instruction to Abraham, and it took three days for Abraham, Isaac and their servants to reach the intended mountain. Three days for Abraham to think and weep at this strange command, not that we are told anything about his feelings at all in the scripture. But how long that journey must have seemed! I wonder at Abraham’s faith and I also wonder if he got any sleep. There seems to have been no remonstrating with God, no attempts at bargaining, just total obedience.

I often think I’ve given God everything and that I love and trust him so much that I would never withhold anything from him. But I know it isn’t true. I withhold my character and my heart from him all the time when I act or think wrongly, or when I am selfish, and if he asked me to sacrifice someone I loved very dearly (including my pet) I would balk at the command. I only have the little faith I’ve been given, and know that anything I do get right is God working through me, his love or wisdom flowing on, perhaps despite rather than because of me.

For Abraham and Isaac, as so often in the Bible, three days separate deep dark deathly hopelessness and resurrection blessing. When it is clear that Abraham will truly withhold nothing from his God, God blesses him with great promises for him and his descendants.

Most of the Bible translations call this story “Abraham Tested” though of course these headings are not in the original Hebrew, just place-markers for us. I am not sure that we gain much from such a description. The Living God is not a capricious tester of faith. I don’t think that he tests, so much as refines us. We don’t get marks out of a hundred for how we react to difficult circumstances or the things that are asked of us. Instead, these trials are just as much a loving opportunity. God isn’t playing games with us.

This episode with Abraham and Isaac is clearly a picture of the sacrifice that God will make for us much later on, giving us his only son, and sacrificing him to a much more brutal and drawn out death than this poor ram had to suffer. No, there is nothing withheld here on God’s side either and this alone should help us to see that this is no thoughtless whimsy on the Lord’s part. All he does is done with purpose and with our best interests at heart. For some reason, this journey up the mountain with a heavy heart, but one which trusts the goodness of God above all things, this is something Abraham needs to do before he can come into a still deeper blessing from the Living God.

I believe this man of amazing faith spoke truth when he declared to his son that “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son,” (verse 8 partial) and that he was on the lookout for a substitute all the way, knowing the goodness of the Lord. But when none such appeared, he still trusted that obedience was the way forward. I cannot imagine how either he or Isaac felt, and I don’t pretend to understand why it had to be so dramatic and difficult, but I do see that it is willingness, obedience, trust and the giving over of everything dear that takes us further into God’s heart.

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Morguefile.com

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151: Snowfall

151 snowfall

I feel a tingling in the air that crackles at the ends of my fingers. I sense an electricity in the universe of love that vibrates my heart strings in a cadence of hopefulness – even in the midst of despair. It is like the sense of iron in the air before a thick snowstorm, or the bright whiteness of clouds about to burst with hail. That deep, magical half-light that is going to sparkle on some treasures and keep others in the dark. It is the crack in God’s voice as he speaks with love in his throat. It is the yearning expectation of every heart and heart’s eye looking to him in the midst of dreaded and dreadful times.

And the fear falls away as we look up into cavalcades of soft flakes, white covering blessings, crystal masterpieces, icy wonders, and we know and we see, and we cannot count them, only receive, and we hold out hands made holy by the cold light of heaven falling down to earth. We open our mouths and let the frozen breath of God the Father melt on our tongues into the Host of his Son, by the Holy Spirit who dances in the fizz of transformation, in the transubstantiation of ice into living water. And thus in this place of death we are given life and the thaw of our hearts begins. Life is beginning again. Taste the sharpness of blood, and see the world covered in a blanket of loving mercy.

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2015

 

 

Day 70: The Thicket and the Wren (Day 800 of daily blogging)

70 Carolina Wren

The 111 short stories God inspired me to write during 2015 are now being made into a book, currently entitled “Telling Tales.”  Some of them were shared here, but I have taken them all down except this one, as this piece was shared to celebrate 800 days straight of prayerful blogging. How faithful the Lord is! I LOVE THIS PIECE AND I HOPE YOU DO TOO. THANK YOU FOR YOUR COMPANY ON THE JOURNEY, DEAR FRIENDS.

 

The world is become a round thorny thicket of a sphere, and it is hard to know how to change or soften it. One morning the Lord of the Birds sent a yellowhammer to the world to sing and call early in the morning. The slender bird perched carefully on a branch and made a joyful racket to wake the soundest sleeper, but to no avail. The next day she collected some friends so that the dawn chorus was loud and rousing. But there was no sign from inside the world that it had woken.

Next the Lord sent a woodpecker. It knocked and knocked at the stems of the thorny thicket, as loud as it could, and all that happened was he got a headache from the solidness of the wood, which had become like stone. It could not hear or had forgotten how to feel vibrations.

Then songbirds came calling, a thrush with a spotted breast and a robin singing its heart on its sleeve. The most beautiful songs were sung, ones that grace the very courts of heaven, but not a glimmer of a reaction came from the entangled thicket, and the birds were sad. The world no longer had ears to hear, nor did it recognise or welcome beauty.

Next a stork was sent to the world. “I am the bringer of new life!” he announced to no-one. But there was no entrance way small enough for him to get his gift through the dense, dark branches covered in thorns and he had to take his present away. The world would not receive a new birth. It had closed itself up to new starts and hopes.

Now a blackbird came. He carried with him the sunshine of joy, which was the same colour as his golden beak. He released his gift to the world, but it only returned to him, for the thicket was now so dark and dense there was nowhere for the rays of light to enter and no way for it to penetrate the blackness below.

So the Lord of the Birds wept for the world that had become so hard, so dense, so deaf and so dark and so stubborn that it would not receive his gifts or his messengers.

“Whom now shall I send?” he asked his court. And all the birds and the angels wept with him and said nothing. But the tiniest wren tilted her head to one side in thought, and the Lord saw. “Will you go?” he asked the little bird.

The wren was surprised. “I will, my Lord, though I am tiny and plain. I have no strength, no gifts to bring, nor is my song lovely. What use shall I be?”

“Like me, you have not lost all hope,” said the Lord. “Go, and take your hope with you.”

So the tiny wren bowed low and then flew with all her strength to the world. Because she was so small and persistent she was able to squeeze through the top layer of the thicket. The world paid her no attention nor tried to stop her, what harm could such a little thing do after all?

She struggled and wriggled and did not give up, though there were thorns and darkness and she was alone. But eventually the wren came out into the centre of the dark, protective thicket that no light had broken through for an age.

In the very centre, just visible despite the darkness, she could see the heart of the world. It had become so weak and small that it was now just a drop of blood hanging from a branch, like a red winter berry. It pumped very gently every second, and even this small movement made the wren afraid that it might fall and then it and the world would be no more. Carefully she crept up to it and did the only thing she could think to do. She swallowed it.

The world’s dark protection shrunk back a little in surprise, wondering what just happened to the centre that it had caged in so well that it had become stifled and tiny enough to be swallowed by a wren. The branches softened just a very little.

It was impossible to know what to do next, so the small bird simply sat and made herself as comfortable as possible, as though she were nesting. It was her job now to protect the world’s heart and she could feel its faint beat deep inside her feathered chest alongside her own. She was very tired from her journey and slept well.

In the morning, she was awakened by the dawn chorus. Far far above her head she could just hear the sound of the yellowhammer and her friends, yammering and chirping. The sound of it gladdened her weary heart and at the same time the world’s heart swelled too. Her listening had awoken its senses and her waking had brought it some life.

Later on, the whole world echoed with the sound of the woodpecker’s knocking. Because the wren could feel it, the world felt it too. The wood became softer and the woodpecker chiselled himself a home.

The following day the dawn chorus came again and was a welcome sound. The woodpecker bustled at the finishing touches for his new home, and then the robin and the thrush came calling, sitting on the now flexible branches and singing for joy as each thorn fell away. Their song, unheard for so long, melted the heart of the world and it seemed to fill with delightful sound, swelling along with the robin’s breast as he sang thanks and praise.

And then the stork came, bringing new life. The wren called out to him in welcome from within. No longer spurned, he found he could land on smooth, firm branches and leave his gift. In response the world’s heart called out to the sap in the thicket and life began to flow again. It wasn’t long before there were new green leaves beginning to unfurl all over the place. The wren was glad to see the changes and feel the world’s heart coming to life again, but she wasn’t sure what to do except to sit still and let it recover.

A new guest the next day brought joy to the world, the blackbird gleefully dropping rays of sunshine that could now rush dancing in between the leafy branches. The light streamed through the growth like water finding channels to flow in. It was quite sensational to watch and the wren with her two hearts, found them pounding in excitement. She longed to fly up to the surface and see her friend the blackbird, and thank him for such wonders, but the world’s heart must stay at its centre, and that meant sitting still.

Now the world was blossoming once more, after such a long time unlived, and the buds opened out into pink delicate flowers, their perfume drifting up into the air and filling the world with the loveliest fragrance. The wren took it in and was thankful, and the heart of the world followed suit.

And now there was enough room for the Lord of the Birds to come down joyfully and see the changes for himself. He knew that the wren had shown the heart of the world how to listen again, how to receive again, how to live again, how to know him again and that every time her heart had lifted, the thicket had lost its power.

“Thank you,” was all he said to his little helper as he held out his palm. And she joyfully hopped onto it, so glad to finally stretch her wings. She had given up her freedom and guarded the heart with her listening and her singing and her stillness. As she moved onto the offered palm her body faded and she was given a new silver outline. The world’s heart stayed behind her as she moved onto the hand of her maker. The wren knew now she could flit and fly in the branches of his arms and shoulders and that she was finally free.

Behind her the heart of the world now hung from the blossomed branches, a large healthy red apple, surrounded by life and love.

© Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2015