If God Asked

How would you feel

if God asked you

to give back your son,

or your daughter,

a child that you love?

Not for service,

to a seminary,

or a monastery,

or to work with inner-city poor,

or in distant realms,

but as a blood sacrifice,

to be slaughtered

and burned on an alter,

and by your own hand?

How could you do this?

How could God ask this?

But we believe God did ask this―once;

it is so written.

Asked this of Abraham.

And Abraham did it―almost;

so it is written.

Most likely we would refuse

to do this.

Most likely we would refuse

to believe that such a request

could be from God,

even if we could believe the Voice

if it asked something else,

something that seemed pure to our ears,

and not this abomination.

And Abraham, our father,

was he made of harder stuff?

Or purer stuff?

Did he so believe

with all his heart

and with all his might,

with every last atom of his being,

that his God was just and righteous,

that God would find a way out of this,

this unreasonable demand,

and so he, Abraham, could play his part

in perfect faith,

with no reservation,

and no sorrow,

no anticipation of shattering loss?

As he calmly told his son,

when Isaac asked

where was the animal to be sacrificed:

God will provide.

And indeed, God did provide.

Still, I wonder if the knife trembled

in Abraham’s hand,

even if it did not waver,

as the moment approached,

the sharp edge of decision,

sharper even than the metal

at his son’s throat.

Could he really do this?

Could God really let him do this?

Keith Tornheim, September 19, 2012