Yesterday I talked to my daughter about how so many things in life are the opposite of what they seem. Life and faith seem full of conundrums, juxtapositions, and especially paradoxes. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, BAM! You get a curve ball that seems completely counterintuitive to what you thought or expected.
Case in point, Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac. Isaac was the long awaited son of Abe and Sarah, heir to Abraham’s inheritance and legacy, and through whom the promise of “all families of the earth being blessed” would be fulfilled, through a future bloodline Savior.
I once heard a great take home thought on the almost sacrifice of Isaac. Some people want to give up all kinds of things for God, such as addictions, bad habits, destructive behaviors, and even some good things—like TV, chocolate, or other foods. That may be all well and good, but those things are not the Isaacs in our lives. Isaacs are the highest and best we have to offer, usually the fulfillment of a God-given dream or promise. Isaacs are those things we cherish deeply, and that have required a great investment of our time, energy, devotion, and love. Receiving and raising Isaac, though a great blessing indeed, was no small sacrifice. And just when all the work was done, God asked for him back.
One thing I especially love in this example is that, in giving up Isaac, Abraham gained him back. And along with Isaac, Abe saw in himself increased faith, and passion, and opportunity. God may have asked for Isaac, but once it was determined that Abraham believed God was big and sovereign enough to be trusted with everything, other provision was made. Isaac “came back to life” better than before, larger than life, and faith was won.
I’ve had three Isaacs in my life to date—God-given blessings and complete miracles—that He asked me to give back. Each of these were promises given and fulfilled…cherished things that I labored over wholeheartedly and loved deeply, passionately.
My very first Isaac was my own children. Because I can’t disclose this story to the world just yet (until they are a little older), suffice it to say that, like Abraham, I also had to sacrifice my most cherished “children of the promise” for a higher and better plan for their lives. I’m happy to say that I’m just beginning to see this Isaac come back to life. Someday, I’m sure it will make an incredible story.
The second was my home. Some of you know the story of the big, beautiful home we built in the country, a whole book in itself of untold miracles and perfect timings. We did a big share of the work ourselves over the course of four years. It was back breaking, consuming, completely frustrating work at times, but in the end, it was magnificent and truly worth the price. But then, God began stirring something inside both me and my husband, urging us to hold it loosely.
A few months after we finished the job, I went to Haiti where I was deeply and completely impressed that our house was never about us, but about 30 beautiful orphans who needed a home and a school. After the decision was made in 2007 to sell our house to help build an orphanage and take care of these amazing kids, life was once again filled with all kinds of timing and provision miracles (and has been since). God brought that Isaac back to life as we watched many children’s lives changed for the better, and we have never once regretted our decision or looked back.
This last year, I have been confronted with my third Isaac. One Million Arrows is both a complete miracle child, as well as a problem child. There are untold marvels at how this book came together with the meeting of Papa in India, getting my heart and life wrapped around thousands of orphans, and all the amazing people that mysteriously happened into my life over the two-year course of writing—people who made it the inspiring story that it is. Also, the impossible endorsements—each one has it’s own story of awe and wonder as to how little, unknown Julie Ferwerda was able to acquire such a recognized name. The Josh McDowell story alone would knock your sock off! Believe me, it couldn’t have been my doing.
Though OMA was a totally difficult book to write and a labor of love, taking almost daily effort over the course of two years, it was also a complete and satisfying gift to me before it was finished. Through it I have grown immensely as a person, and I’ve had the opportunity to meet Papa and all the amazing orphaned children, as well as to encourage thousands of families to make a difference wherever they’re planted.
The problem with this latest Isaac is that it ties me to many people and ministries who are not going to “get” or embrace my newfound life message and mission, and I don’t want to cause unfair injury or embarrassment for them. It holds me back from becoming all that I am supposed to be and work toward in my future. As we sell out of our first print run of 5,000 books in just 16 months (nothing short of a miracle, considering there have been no big marketing campaigns or even one ministry who has supported it), we also draw near to a new beginning. It’s time to let this Isaac go, but I already see it being brought back to life with the soon publication of my newest book, which will ultimately impact many more lives than OMA ever could have, and with a much more powerful and important message.
As you listen to my story and my plans, and what God is doing in my life, I hope you come away with another thought: great faith and great rewards demand great sacrifices.
My husband has always said I’m an all or nothing kinda gal, and he’s spot on. When it comes to the Adventure and “The Story,” I don’t want to miss one ounce of the very best that God has in store for me. Through all these experiences, I now know that sometimes this is going to mean going counter-intuitively to what I understand in the moment, or insanely opposed to what others around me think (some people think I’m kinda tripped on drugs). But someday, I’m totally confident that it will make perfect sense, and certainly already does more than it ever did before.
For now, I can tell you that I’ve no regrets, and my life has been incredibly exciting and amazing. I can’t wait for what’s next!
Have you sacrificed an Isaac or two? What has been the outcome? Regrets? Magic? Adventure?