This morning, Bo the Poodle and I did our customary routine, riding in my car to QuikTrip for a large refill of Diet Dr. Pepper. To those who want to tell me that diet soda is worse for your health than regular soda, I would like to say, “Shut up!” I don’t really care. I don’t drink coffee, and I like my Diet Doc.
Yesterday, in preaching on Genesis 22, my pastor asked us, “What is your Isaac?” In other words, what is the thing that you would find it difficult or impossible to give up if God required it. In Genesis 22:2, we hear God establishing this category:
“Take your son,” he [God] said, “your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
In this verse, God piles on the pain. He starts off telling Abraham to take his son. Then he emphasizes that Isaac is Abraham’s only son. Then God calls Isaac by name before emphasizing that Abraham loves the young man. The sarcastic side of me wants to hear Abraham responding, “Oh, that Isaac!”
Abraham loved Isaac. He’d waited for decades to see a son born from Sarah, and finally he had one. God had promised to make of Abraham a great nation through this boy. And did we mention that Abraham loved his son? Now God wanted Abraham to take this miraculous, sought-for, promised, and beloved son out to a desolate mountain and thrust a dagger into him. We have to assume that, although obedient, Abraham did not rush to this task with joy in his heart. Still, he showed his readiness to obey.
So what’s your Isaac? What would be the impossible or nearly impossible thing for you to give up for God? I’ve determined that right now, my Isaac is my stomach. I enjoy eating way too much. I enjoy that Diet Dr. Pepper.
You might protest that food and drink do not compare with sacrificing Isaac, and you’d be right. Still, I can love them more than I love God. I can give them priority. Eating and drinking–like loving a son–is not sinful, but it can become sinful when it pushes God into second place.
Jesus sets up our priorities pretty clearly.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”–Matthew 22:37
That list does not leave a lot of room for Diet Dr. Pepper. Or maybe it leaves room for however much of that drink God allows. The beauty of our Isaac problem is seen in the conclusion to the Genesis 22 account. When he is willing to give up Isaac in order to obey God, Abraham is given Isaac and so much more along with God.
I’m not sure God will allow me to keep the Diet Dr. Pepper, but I’m hopeful.