Do you remember the day you proposed to your wife? I remember the day I proposed to Londa. It was December 23rd, 1994, a cold, wintry afternoon. I had come up to Tulsa from Oklahoma City to visit Londa that Christmas and I was on a mission.
I could joke about my proposal and say something like, “I couldn’t get her to stop following me around so I went to the courthouse to file a restraining order and found out that getting a marriage license was easier, so I proposed instead!” But that wasn’t really the way of it. God brought this amazing woman into my life and I was smitten. I left Oklahoma City a single man. It was my purpose to go to Tulsa and return that Christmas as a man bound by promise to the woman of His dreams! I would trade one kind of freedom for another. I would surrender my right to be totally focused on me in order to become something more than I could ever be on my own. I would give up something I loved for something I loved even more.
And so we went together to Woodward Park each carrying a gift for the other. I had always joked that if I ever proposed to someone I would do it old school – and by that I mean 1st grade old school – I would pass my girl a note that said, “I like you. Do you like me. Please check this box.” And so that’s just what I did. The kind folks at Precious Moments had seen fit to create one of their figurines of a boy proposing to girl with a note just like this. So as she sat on the park bench and unwrapped the gift I got down on one knee and said these words:
“All that I am, all that I ever will be, I give to you. Will you marry me?”
It’s an understatement to suggest I was nervous. Would she say yes? Would she run away screaming? Would she laugh in my face? But none of these things happened. She said yes and now 15 years, 4 babies and a world of adventures later we stand side by side as husband and wife.
It’s risky business being married. It’s risky business opening yourself up to someone like that and laying it all on the line. There’s room for hurt and disappointment. But there’s also amazing potential for joy unbelievable.
There comes a point in every relationship where you have to put things to the test. We’ve been dating, but is there potential for more? We’ve had some good times together, but is this a friendship designed for fun or a commitment intended to stand the test of time? There’s only one way to find out – ask the question. Take the test. Let’s see if we’ll pass. It’s risky business being married.
This morning I read Genesis 22. Abraham’s relationship with God was put to the test. God tells Abraham to offer his one and only son as a burnt offering. My first reaction to this certainly isn’t willful obedience. It’s really something more akin to shock and horror. Surely God doesn’t mean it. Surely He would never ask such a thing. But there it is in Scripture. God asks Abraham to kill his only son and Abraham obeys. It’s risky business being a father.
You remember how the story unfolds. Abraham and Isaac with a couple of servants make their way to Mount Moriah. At the foot of the hill they leave the servants behind. Abraham carries the knife. Isaac carries the wood. Isaac asks his father, “Where is the lamb for sacrifice?” Abraham responds, “God will provide.” Abraham builds the altar, binds his son to it, raises the knife and…God steps in. Abraham passed the test. God stops Abraham before the blade falls and then provides for Abraham and Isaac a ram to be offered instead. Abraham’s choice here amazes me. He was willing to give up something he loved for something he loved even more – that’s sacrifice. Or said another way – Abraham was willing to give more than he thought he could afford because he trusted that God would provide. You see his faith in God in every verse. God says go and Abraham goes. God says stop and Abraham stops. “Where’s the lamb?” Isaac asks. “God will provide,” Abraham responds. In spite of the absurdity of the situation, despite the risk involved Abraham believed God – and James 2:23 says, “…it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
Here’s something I notice – Abraham never really made the sacrifice. Isaac lived. God provided a ram to take the place of the offering Abraham was willing to make. Yet even though Abraham didn’t lose a thing in God’s eyes the sacrifice had been made. In God’s eyes Abraham’s obedience was ‘accounted to him as righteousness’. So I have to wonder, what kind of risky business is it to follow God? I wonder if today you’re willing to put it all on the line. Will you open yourself up to Him? If God asks will you give more than you think you can afford and trust Him to provide? Will you give up something you love for something you love even more? Will you humble yourself, get down on your knees and say, “All that I am, all that I ever will be I give to You.”?
Life is full of risky business. Following God is one risk worth taking.