Holy Asides
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October 22, 2014, 9:58 AM

Offering Our Isaac

The Spiritual Discipline for this month has been Worship. The most interesting aspect of this discipline has been the merging between the individual and the corporate aspects that take place. Unlike Contemplative Prayer, which is primarily being still before God in a private devotion (even if done within a group setting), the purpose of Worship is having a “holy expectancy” of entering into the Glory of God as a Church body. This begins with offering ourselves as a living sacrifice day-by-day to God. This preparation of being present with God each day, hopefully culminates into a richness of devotion and praise when we gather together each week. 


In Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, he offers several steps to help one enter into worship, but over and over I have come back to one that has been most helpful. It is not actually an official step, but a combination of the steps of submission, sacrifice, dependency, and preparation.  These steps are incorporated into a song that was introduced during the Spiritual Discipline class and Holy Hour Service that followed.


    “I Offer My Isaac” by Stacey Regan


    I offer my Isaac, here on your altar,

    Removed from my shoulders, bound for the slaughter.

    I surrender my Isaac, here on your altar.

    Freely I offer the love of my heart.


    My hands are free to praise you wholly now,

    To receive what you have for me.

    And should you take or return my Isaac, oh Lord,

    On your altar my heart will still be.

    On your altar my heart will still be.


This song draws upon the imagery of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice to the Lord the most important thing in the world to him, the son that he had been waiting decades for. Of course, that act of pure obedience and dependency was received by God, Isaac was spared, and a ram was provided for the sacrifice. This whole story (and song) addresses the bitter reality of the people, positions, or things that we value above God, as well as the necessity of laying them on the altar of God, giving them to God, and sacrificing them (and ourselves by association) to God. Maybe God will take them from us, maybe he will return them—but either way our hands are free to worship God.


For me this song has a way of putting things, or returning them, to proper order. What am I worshiping before God? What have I been obsessing about that is keeping me from God? What things am I seeking to control and not letting God even be a part of? When I lay those things on the altar of God, I am submitting to God’s will, sacrificing my control, and being dependent upon him. This is worship; drawing near to God’s love and grace and glory. But it’s only the first aspect of worship because this preparation of sacrifice for worship, hopefully, then overflows into our worship together, where we come with free hands, and unburdened hearts, to receive what God has in store for us as individuals, but more importantly, as a family in Christ Jesus.

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