What Are You Withholding From God?
“You did what?” My mouth dropped open as my husband told the story. I couldn’t believe it.
“God told you to sacrifice our son? Abraham, what is wrong with you? Where is Isaac? Where is my son?”
Abraham calmly replied, “He is outside with the servants tending to the animals. He is fine Sarah”.
“Okay, let me get this straight! You bound my son to an altar. You treated him like an animal. You lifted a knife to kill him, and you say everything is fine?”
“Sarah, what would you have me do? Disobey God? God told me to take our son . . . our Isaac . . . our baby . . . our heir . . . our life. Our Isaac was to be sacrificed as a burnt offering to God. I didn’t question. If God gave him to us, God can take him from us. Our son was God’s before he was ours.”
I saw Abraham speaking, but I could hear no words. He almost killed our son. Our promise. I could understand that he didn’t go through with it because God provided a ram. But still. This was too much for a mother to bear. A mother who waited over ninety years to see the promise of a child. A mother who tried to take matters into her own hands with Hagar and Ishmael . . . and paid dearly. A mother who held, and nursed, and loved that baby. How could my husband do this?
Finally, I heard Abraham. “Sarah, my love, what would you have done?”
“I wouldn’t have sacrific . . . I wouldn’t have taken my . . . I wouldn’t have . . . “. I couldn’t get the words out.
“I don’t know.” I replied through angry and bitter tears. I could hardly look at the man. I don’t know what I would have done. Would I have disobeyed God? Would I have kicked and screamed? Would I have bargained with God?
“Abraham, I would like to think that I would have obeyed, but I just don’t know.” I cried on my husband as he held me close. Why wasn’t my faith as strong as his? Why couldn’t I be as confident that God was a God of mercy and grace?
Heck, I laughed when God told us that I would give birth to Isaac. I laughed in God’s face as if anything is too hard for Him. Forgive me, Lord.
I wiped the tears, came to my senses (a bit), and stared into the eyes of my husband, “Why did you do it, Abraham? Help me understand so that I can become a woman of faith. Teach me how you could obey God at any cost . . . including that of sacrificing our son. Why did you do it, my love?”
Abraham pulled me close into his strong embrace and whispered into my ear, “Because I will withhold nothing from my God.”.
- Genesis 22 -
I was studying Abraham and Sarah tonight as worship music played in the background. William McDonald’s song “Withholding Nothing” came on Pandora and I began to weep. (I would encourage you to listen to it HERE)
Oh Abraham. My heart broke for him and Sarah. They gave God their everything . . . including their son. They withheld nothing!
If they can give their son . . . how much more can we give God?
What are you Withholding From God as you Embrace this New Season?
Have you given God your relationships?
I withheld my relationships from God for a good long time. I wouldn’t let God touch my relationships because I knew many weren't from Him in the first place, so I withheld them. I hid my relationships from God, hoping He wouldn’t see the mistakes I made. When I finally surrendered them to God, and withheld nothing, He revolutionized my life, and brought me out of my own will into His. It was pain. It was hurt. It was nights of crying so hard, I had no tears left. I imagine Abraham cried so hard he had no tears left.
But I surrendered, and when I did, God moved mightily. I surrendered all. Past the pain, past the hurt, past the guilt, past the mistakes . . . I surrendered all to Him. (Romans 12:1)
Have you given God your time?
I busied myself for a good long time. I busied myself in church, leading worship, and running ministries. I busied myself at work. I spent too much time on social media, and not enough time in the Word. I was rush, rush, rush, go, go, go . . . thinking I was doing it for God. And all He ever wanted was me. He wanted time with me. He wanted to walk with me and talk to me. I withheld my time from Him.
Until sick, burnt out, exhausted, unhealthy, emotionally damaged, weary . . . I turned to Him and said, “All I want is you, Jesus. I surrender all to you. I am withholding nothing.” (James 4:8) (Jeremiah 29:13)
Have you given God your past?
I held onto my past. The guilt, the fear, the shame, the bad decisions, the mistakes, I held onto them in a death grip, not wanting to let go. I relived my bad choices over and over again. Like a broken record, the memories went around and around in my mind cutting open scars that were was desperately trying to heal.
Until empty, insane, desperate, and alone, I cried out to God and said, “I surrender all to you. I surrender my past. I surrender the pain. I surrender the bad mistakes. I surrender the poor choices that were all me and not You. I surrender it all. Everything I give to you. Withholding nothing.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)
Have you given God your future?
In my youth, I controlled my future. I decided what I wanted, when I wanted it. I was so afraid to just give my future to God, and like Sarah, I made the plans and called the shots. I had “Hagar’s” and “Ishmael’s”. I am good at accomplishing whatever I set my mind to do. I am a crazy determined, and hard worker. That is a dangerous weapon when your mind isn’t 100% surrendered to Jesus.
But I grew up. I realized that when my plans are not inline with God’s vision, the only thing that brings about is emptiness. So I gave God my future. When He said move, I moved. When He said go, I went. I surrendered, and continue to surrender my future to God’s will for my life. (Isaiah 43:19)
Have you given God your life?
“You can have this part, God, but not that. I like that part too much.”
“You can have me on Sunday mornings, God, but not on Saturday nights. I am having too much fun.”
“You can have this characteristic, but not that one. I am too prideful to let that part of me go.”
“You can have the easy stuff, but the hard stuff, I don’t want to deal with because it hurts too much.”
"If I give you this . . . can I keep that?"
Our God is a jealous God. (Exodus 20:5) He doesn’t want a part time lover. He doesn’t want a friend with benefits. He wants all of us. Every nook and cranny of our heart. He wants. And you know what? HE DESERVES IT ALL!
As I embrace this New Season in my life, I am no longer withholding parts of my life, my past, my future, my relationships, or my time, with the God who created me and called me but name.
I have prayed, and will continue to pray . . . “Oh God, I surrender all to you. I give it all to you. Every part of me. I surrender to your will. I surrender to your way. Forgive me for withholding anything from you. Forgive me for creating “Hagar’s” and “Ishmael’s”. Forgive me for withholding my “Isaac”. If there is anything hidden in my heart, make it clean. Create in me a clean heart oh God and renew a right spirit in me. I surrender it all to you. As I embrace New Seasons . . . I withhold nothing.”
When you give it all to God . . .
As I give Him my relationships, he holds my hand through any pain and hurt, and brings me out with my head held hight.
As I gave Him my time, He meets me, and teaches me how to hear His voice so it is crystal clear.
As I continue to give Him my past, He is removing the sin and the pain so it is just a distant memory and not a painful gash.
As I continue to give Him my future, I pray that He opens doors, and guides me through the right ones. Even if they are paths I may not have chosen or even wanted, I surrender my future to Him, because I know His plans are to prosper me and bless me.
“I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring[b] all nations on earth will be blessed,[c] because you have obeyed me.” Genesis 22:16-18.
I am standing on this promise God made to me . . . “Because you have surrendered all to me. Because you have withheld nothing, I will bless you because you have obeyed me.”
When you give it all to God . . . you will be blessed.
How Does Your New Season Begin?
How is your last chapter going to end? How is this new season going to begin for you? Are you going to continue to hold onto ________________? Or are you going to surrender it all to Jesus.