Brain Surgery, Part 2 of 3
When I first heard the story of Abraham placing his son Isaac on the altar (Genesis 22:1-19), I was young and it blended together with all the other Bible stories – bigger than life, remote, far off in time.
When I read it as an adult, I was slightly horrified. Why would anyone put his child on an altar as a sacrifice? Then I reminded myself: this is Father Abraham. He knew everything would work out in the end, surely. He was a Bible character. They had tons more faith than the rest of us.
“Your daughter needs brain surgery.”
When these words were said to us, the image of Abraham and Isaac floated through my mind. But it was different: Abraham ceased being holy-of-holy Father Abraham and was instead just Abraham, the dad.
Abraham, the dad, breaking into a cold sweat at the thought of lifting his cherished only son onto an altar as a sacrifice to the God he loved. He had to be confused – was this to be the end of the son he and Sarah had prayed so long for?
Yet Abraham didn’t plant his feet and curse God. He didn’t question. He obeyed.
His story was my inspiration. When the neurosurgeon met with us, it was clear there weren’t choices to be made. Without the surgery, death was imminent. But surgery itself held the risk of death.
Between a rock and a hard place, as the saying goes.
Every time I thought about Kristen’s surgery, my hands shook.
I wonder if Abraham’s hands shook as he placed his only son on the altar?
Every time I prayed, I pleaded: “Lord!” Cohesive thoughts would not form, not at first. I clung to Romans 8:26’s promise that I didn’t have to say the exact right words for God to know my heart.
I wonder if Abraham could pray clearly, or if he just pleaded silently, over and over?
Scripture doesn’t tell us Abraham’s thoughts or his emotions, but I could make a pretty good guess. He was just as emotional as the rest of us would’ve been. He wasn’t superhuman.
But Abraham obeyed.
He trusted God.
That’s what I know.
But I also know I don’t always like God’s outcomes.
I have a feeling Abraham didn’t like the outcome he saw as inevitable. He put his son on a wood altar and had raised his hand to slay him before God stopped him.
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
This had been a test for Abraham. If God was going to descend millions from this one man, he should be up to the job.
I don’t think Kristen’s brain surgery was the same kind of test for us that surrendering Isaac was for Abraham. Yet this story was one of two from the pages of Scripture that inspired me to totally give Kristen up to the Lord before her surgery. The other was the story of Christ praying at the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-44;Mark 14:32-36;Luke 22:39-44).
Both times, God asked the unimaginable. In Abraham’s story, we can feel his torment as he answers Isaac’s questions. In the Garden, we get to actually read the words of Christ’s prayer and witness his agony. Yet in both situations, bleak as the outcome looked to be, they surrendered their own will, to instead do what Father God wanted.
In both cases, where would we be if Abraham and Jesus hadn’t surrendered to Him?
As I dwelled on these stories in light of Kristen’s impending brain surgery, letting them sink deep into my soul, words from earlier years rose to the surface: if everything was taken away from you except Jesus, could you be truly happy?
If everything was taken away…or if Kristen was taken away…
Could I be happy?
Could I totally surrender her to God, no matter the outcome?
It was time to answer this question.