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The Walk up the Mountain

I want to write down what I got out of the sermon this morning just so I can remember it so thought I'd share it... Just so you know it's not original thoughts this time.

Abraham and Isaac stand at the bottom of a mountain. Their servants have everything packed and ready for the trip. Abraham's heart is thudding heavily. He can't believe this day has actually come. He can't believe what God has asked of him. Isaac's birth was a miracle. He had kept faith in God all those years of waiting, then came the joyful moment of his birth. Now he was a young man, strong and full of life, and God was asking the impossible. He was asking Abraham to destroy the most beautiful gift he had ever given him.

"Let's go," he says quietly, and his feet are heavy as they begin the climb, each step bringing him closer to the thing he wonders if he will really the courage to do. He searches his brain for some way out, but gives up and dully plods along. Higher. Closer. He faces Isaac's questions with a shrug, "God will provide a lamb." And Isaac, sensing his father's troubled spirit, falls silent as he climbs, matching his step to his elderly father's.

At the top, slowly and methodically, he builds the same kind of altar he has done so many times. He is in a trance, not hardly able to believe he is tying his son's arms and feet, just like the pagan nations around him whom he despises. He doesn't notice the flash of white in the bushes so close by.

Then everything changes. He hears the voice of God. He turns around, and the lamb in the briar bush gives a feeble bleat. Still almost in a daze, he catches the lamb easily and soon it is smoking on the fire.

He and his beloved son sit on a rock side by side, looking down the trail. It is quiet up on the mountain, they are alone, and have just been part of an experience they will never forget. Maybe they won't ever understand why this test was necessary, but they will never forget this lesson of surrender. Abraham will never forget seeing the thing he loved the most lying helpless on the altar, and Isaac the feel of those bands around his hands, and the trembling touch of his father, submitting to God's instructions even tho they didn't make sense. "You were right," says Isaac. "God provided a lamb. A lamb that we didn't raise... No effort on our part to raise it or even carry it up the mountain. It couldn't even run when we tried to catch it."

Some days we stand at the bottom of a mountain of trouble. The next step is something we would do anything to avoid. We say, "God just show me the outcome. I will not climb this mountain unless I know how this story will end. Show me!" And he is silent. We say, "God just let me bring a bit of baggage up this mountain. Here's my little Plan B in case you run out of ideas or forget about me trudging along in this rough, barren life you have sentenced me to." And God is silent, and you fall silent too, because you know with God, it's all or nothing. He doesn't want your little Plan Bs. And all there is to do is take the first step.

I feel like this is totally where I'm at right now. I have tickets for Haiti in twelve days. Wednesday their stay at home order was extended for two months. They're getting more cases. But the airline called us once to confirm on Friday because flights are sold out and they wanted to make sure we still wanted our seats. Yesterday we got an email asking us to fill out travel information. Today on the way home from church I called and she said it was not canceled. I asked if I could plan on it, or if there was a good chance it would be canceled last minute. She said, "No we will fly that day unless there is weather or mechanical issues. It is not going to be canceled due to Covid." So... what? I know with Haiti anything can happen. If it was any other country... Dominican Republic for example, has it nicely printed on the travel website that the border is closed till June 2, and after that flights will resume with travelers being quarantined for two weeks. I could accept that because it's sure. But I'm supposed to climb this mountain knowing the outcome is not sure... Sorta kinda plan on leaving, and even praying and hoping, all the while knowing I could get an email any day saying everything is canceled. And if you have ever been engaged four and a half months you can understand why that seems like a pretty big catastrophe.

Nothing about our relationship has made sense. In the beginning, he hoped to get a job up in the mountains where his sister and husband were living. It didn't happen and now Ben's are still in Haiti instead of getting to USA, and living above his parent's house. He went without a job for close to a year, then got two job offers in one week, and surprise money to buy a moto around the same time. He waited four months for an answer to the proposal, and then we got engaged a day after my minister had told me to go back, teach school, and wait. A week before we were engaged, his job at the orphanage that he was really learning to love fell through, and he was left with half the income. He found a beautiful house and rented it in faith, even after the Co-vid started and borders closed, and my Trump money paid for a good part of the year's rent. He thought he would lose April and May rent, but the owner agreed to start in June. And dad put an ad for my truck on one site, Lake Charles Craigslist, and it sold for only $500 less than the price I had on the ad, in about a week, to the first person who called about it. Sometimes it feels like a roller coaster, this life, full of great uncertainty all mixed up with amazing love and enough miracles that we can hang on to faith a little longer.

Pray for us to stay strong and calm... To have faith mixed with patience and acceptance. And pray that we can still experience that mountain top view, and the quiet peace and awe of what God has taken us thru, and how much he wants us to be together!

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