Some dudes call their dad their “old man.” What do they know? My old man is old. But, hey, it’s cool. He’s pretty chill. I mean, ok, he’s been a great dad. Really linked into God, you know? Yeah, following some of the rules and being “obedient” can be a drag, but hey, it’s all good. I may not like all that this requires, but I really respect the old man; and yeah, I love him. And I’m learning from him. Let me tell you what happened the other day. It was so awesome…but one of the scariest things ever.
So, we were going up on the mountain to worship God and offer Him a sacrifice. I mean, we do this all the time, right? No big deal. It’s pretty routine. So Dad loads me up with a pile of wood for the burnt offering, while he carries the knife and fire. My load is a lot heavier than his, but hey, like I said, he’s old, man. After three days’ journey, he tells the servants to stay with the donkey and that we’ll meet ’em where we left ’em.
So we’re climbing this mountain over there in Moriah, and usually we talk a lot. You know, just stuff he’s thinking about or I’m thinking about or stuff we need to do or stuff we did. Sometimes we laugh our fool heads off, but then rein it in because, you know, we’re supposed to be in worship mode. The stuff that goes on between us is stuff that just makes you feel good to be with your old man. But this time he was quiet, the kind of quiet you feel like you need to leave alone. He was, like, in thought, but it was deep and pulling on his heart, it seemed. It wasn’t the time to crack jokes or talk about zits or beards or anything like that. So we trudged alone on this really hot day, and sweat started running down my face and into my eyes, and I’m loaded with this wood, dude, so I couldn’t wipe it away or anything. I looked at my dad, and little beads of water made tracks on his brown, wrinkled skin and disappeared into his gray beard. He looked at each step he took, yet, his eyes were far away. I kept silent, but as we neared the top of the mountain, I realized something.
“Hey, Dad. We brought the stuff for a sacrifice, but what are we going to sacrifice?” Seemed we missed something really important. Maybe that’s what he was thinking about.
But he just said, “God will provide the sacrifice.”
Ok. I thought. Don’t know how that’s gonna happen, but I’ve learned to trust my old man’s faith.
We finally reached a spot that Dad says was the place to worship and make our sacrifice, but I still didn’t see where that sacrifice was gonna come from. He proceeded though, as if we already had the lamb. He built an altar and piled up the wood on it. And here is where it gets really weird…not just because of what he did, but also because of what I did, or didn’t do. After he had the altar ready for the lamb, which was nowhere in sight, he tied me up with rope and laid me on the wood, still silent, still with that contemplative look. It was like I was in some kind of weird dream that you just go along with, but another part of your brain is screaming. Strangely, I didn’t resist. I can’t explain why; I just didn’t. I trusted my dad, even in this bizarre situation. But when he brought out his knife and raised it over my throat, I thought, dude, I’m going to die right here and now. This ain’t no dream. This is death in the next moment.
As I braced myself for the plunge of the blade, he stopped and looked kind of up and away, as though someone had called his name. I didn’t hear anything, but he said, “Here I am.” Dude! I wanted to say, Here I am. On a pile of wood and about to die under my old man’s knife!
But then he dropped the knife and ran off to some nearby bushes, and I could see that he was pulling something out of them. Dang! It was a ram! It’s the sacrifice that was missing. DANG! I was almost that sacrifice!
Dad scooped up that ram, and he turned toward the altar, but then he crumpled down onto his knees and buried his face in the ram’s neck. He was shaking, and I heard his muffled cries. Squeezing that ram with the only strength he seemed to have left, he staggered to his feet. And I couldn’t even help him because I was still tied up on that blasted pile of wood!
Well, it tuned out well for me because God came through with that ram. So we sacrificed and we worshiped, and then my old man made a name for that place: “The LORD Will Provide.” He got that right!
Just like when we came up the mountain, going down was in silence, but now Dad seemed to be listening to or hearing something, and instead of that faraway look, his eyes seemed wiser, with a wisdom that comes dearly. And he looked grateful, certainly for the ram, but seemingly for something much much bigger than even my life. Just walking alongside this “new” old man was awesome, in a way, so I held my thoughts and just let Dad be with his. But in that silence I was trying to figure it out. If Dad knew God would provide the ram, why was he ready to sacrifice me? And if he was prepared to do that, how was it that he and I were both going to return to the servants as he told them we would? I looked at him and believed he had had similar questions, but no longer, because God had spoken to him. I just knew it.
With these thoughts swirling in my head, we reached the bottom of the mountain, met up with the servants, and returned to Beersheba. As we did, I knew the world had been rocked in some way that I cannot explain, dude, all because on that mountain something heavy, really heavy, had transpired between God and my old man.