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Jump...I'll Catch you!

Encounter: Read or listen to Genesis 22:1-24, James 2:21-24, Hebrews 11:11-12, 17-19 in the New Living Translation.

When my daughter, Megan, was four years old and just learning to swim, we would play a game in the pool to help develop her confidence and overcome her fear of the water. I would swim into the shallow end and she would stand on the edge of the pool waiting eagerly for my next words. With a smile of encouragement I shouted, “Jump, I’ll catch you!” 

At first there would be some fall starts as the fear of the unknown would almost paralyze Meg, so I would keep reminding her that I would catch her, to remember that I would be there to hold on to her. Finally, I could see her trust become visible and she would jump with her arms wide open right into my arms. Once in the water she would hold tight as I reassured her I would not let her go. That is until she said, “Do it again, do it again!”

Over time her faith in my promises to be there when she jumped became stronger and as her courage grew she began jumping higher and without hesitation, even moving farther into the deeper end of the pool. Her faith was growing from the experience of my faithfulness.  

After years of learning to trust God in the shallows, it was a big ask when God called Abraham into the deep end, seemingly asking for what he feared losing the most. Over the span of a lifetime, Abraham grew in his faith after “jumping” into arms wide open. Being held, rescued and strengthened by God’s presence in his life, Abraham grew to know God more intimately, he was even called the friend of God (James 2:23). Ultimately he was willing to make that sacrifice because his faith grew out of his experience of God’s faithfulness. 

As we “jump” into our Lenten journey beginning this Ash Wednesday, February 14th, I wonder if we might ask God what we need to put on the altar and sacrifice so we can experience new life and new faith. When we sacrifice something to God, at times it feels all there is are ashes. But if you stay in the scriptures long enough, you will see our God has a way of bringing new life “Out of the Ashes.” Where is God inviting you into the deep end?

You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete (James 2:22) God was shouting at Abraham to jump and after years of experiencing God’s faithfulness Abraham shouted back, “Do it again!” 

Jumping in faith,

Pastor T 

Reflect: How is Abraham offering Isaac on an altar an example of both faith and works? How does God respond to Abraham’s faith? Why is faith without works dead?

Spiritual Practice: Sacrifice is the death of one thing so that something else can have new life. For the Christ follower that something else we speak of is faith that grows as we experience a relationship with God. Find a quiet place to reflect on this definition of sacrifice and the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22. Ask Holy Spirit if there is anything in your life that God is calling you to sacrifice in order to experience new life in another area of your life. Journal what is coming to mind and share with a spiritual director, friend or pastor to discern where God is saying, “Jump…I’ll catch you

Gather: In your small group, discuss the similarities between the story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac on Mt. Moriah and the life of Jesus being sacrificed there 2000 years later. What do you think God is wanting to show us?

**In this week’s 730 Challenge readings, don’t forget to watch the videos provided on some of the days. They are rich with meaning and will give you understanding of the connections we will discover in the over story of God. 

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