I taught my little six-pack of 13-year-olds an Easter Sunday school lesson last week about Abraham and Isaac being a similitude for Jesus Christ.
It was, unexpectedly, one of those experiences where the spirit told me what to say as I said it. I was learning while I taught my students, which is both terrifying and thrilling.
We read the story together in Genesis. We talked about the swiftness with which Abraham listened to the commandment to take Isaac and offer him as a sacrifice. Despite the awfulness of the task, he didn’t even hesitate. He just went. (Wow, basically).
As he climbed the mountain with Isaac, who carried the bundle of kindling on his back, he asked his father where the animal was that they would offer to the Lord.
“God will provide,” Abraham answered.
I imagine his palms were sweating and his stomach churning as he said this. I imagine him feeling the kind of desperate desolation I have felt regularly as the parent of a nonverbal, aggressive, developmentally-disabled, giant son.
I felt I should tell the class that an altar is a designated holy spot where we leave an offering for God. Even when the offering He wants seems too big and too much, somehow it will work out.
God reminded me of a dream I had not long ago of being at Disneyland with Henry, my mother-in-law, and my sister-in-law, Mia. The four of us went to Disneyland together years ago, incidentally.
But in my dream, Mia, who now has three little children, was pregnant. She unexpectedly went into labor in a busy stairwell right there in the happiest place on earth. Such a happy way to deliver a baby, I KNOW. I know.
We all remained calm. My mother-in-law delivered the baby then and there, in a corner just out of the way of the crowds moving around us.
Then we were back in our hotel room. Mia was bundled up, resting, and my mother-in-law bustled quietly around the room, taking care of the baby. “I’m looking for something to wrap the baby in,” she whispered to me, so as to not wake Mia. “I need to keep the baby warm.”
I remembered something. “When I was packing, I thought I should throw in a couple of baby blankets,” I said. “I’ll get them.” It makes no sense, but that’s dream life for you. I walked to my suitcase and unzipped it.
To my astonishment, I found not only baby blankets for swaddling, but also onesies, footed jammies, diapers, wipes, tiny socks, baby shampoo, swabs, and binkies. My suitcase was packed with baby supplies that I didn’t even know we would need.
I felt joy seeing that beyond the blankets, which would have been serendipitous enough, we had everything we needed. We had everything.
“God will provide,” I repeated to the teens in my class.
Things looked bleak for an obedient Abraham. But God did provide. I personally think having an angel stop you from killing the much-yearned-for son of your old age at just the exact critical moment is essentially a textbook definition of God providing.
And, He placed a ram in a nearby thicket. And it was stuck. And they already had the altar and the fire ready to go.
God will provide, because He already has.
He packed my suitcase of supplies way before I knew what even needed to be in it. He packed it with everything.
He has given us what we need at this moment in time.
I walk up the mountain, bereft, a bundle of kindling on my back, wondering where the animal sacrifice is.
God will provide.
I set my punching, head-banging eleven-year-old on the altar.
I leave my bad, bad, difficult, never-ending Jack Is Sick weekend on the altar.
I put my not-yet-potty-trained stinky preschooler on the altar.
I set my persistent headache on the altar.
I drag the nasty hazmat couch up the entire mountain and upend it on the altar. Joyfully.
Then I hold a carefully-guarded stone of resistance over the altar. “I want what you want,” I say.
I leave it there.