We were outside together when it started to rain, Isaac and I. He donned a warrior’s helmet and sword and I was enjoying watching him play among the trees. He’s always been so fierce, so masculine, and so hilarious, with a healthy dose of naughty thrown in for good measure.
“Better go inside, Mom. It’s gonna rain” He waved his sword at the sky – this he commanded, more than suggested.
“Good idea”, I said, “But what will you do, Isaac?”
“I’m gonna stay out here and save the world.”
My Isaac. The promise of his birth was whispered to me by God, one spring afternoon, at a time when I thought I was done having children.
“You’re going to have another son. Name him Isaac.”
It’s a moment I don’t talk about much because I consider it sacred, this divine whisper of promise from God six years ago, heard so clearly that there was no question. I also don’t speak of it much because there was more. And it’s the next part that I’ve had a harder time understanding:
“You’re going to have another son. Name him Isaac. Name him Isaac because you must be willing to give him back to me.”
There it is.
And in my mind, the story of Abraham and his beloved son. The long-awaited child of a woman too old to bear children. A gift. A blessing. And Abraham was to sacrifice him. Yet we know how the story ends- Old Abraham proved his obedience to God once again by leading his son Isaac away- away up a mountain, father and son. He led him away to give him back. Give him back to the very God who promised Abraham his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. And at the last moment, I envision a trusting son, and a loving father who wrestled with this. Who must’ve been about ready to break down in grief, turn and run back down that mountain holding tight to Isaac’s hand. But, instead he chose to love God more, he trusted in God’s plan. And then came the ram. The ram in the bushes that God sent to take Isaac’s place on the alter and prove God’s provisional love for his children. Abraham’s obedience is blessed once more. How he must have rejoiced.
I entered my pregnancy with Isaac figuring it may end in miscarriage. Maybe that’s what God was talking about when he said I’d be giving him back. I was fearful, for the love I carried already for my unborn child was strong. And though I knew I had little control over it, I was ready to give him back. I had promised.
But after an uneventful pregnancy, Isaac entered the world as most babies do- screaming and healthy and vigorous. And for five years he’s remained- screaming, and healthy, and vigorous. This blonde boy of mine. The charmer. He wants to marry me some day. He calls me sweetheart when he wants to butter me up. Yeah, he’s good. And I feel compelled to write this story of Isaac because every time I try to ask Isaac what he wants to be when he grows up, he starts talking about heaven. It happened again the other day- we were swinging on the front porch swing. I was relishing a rare moment alone with this boy who never stops moving. The birds had been singing, but at that moment there was a hush in the air as a storm approached.
He turned to look at me- blue eyes of wonder
“Isaac, so what do you think you might want to be when you grow up?”
Pause. Silence. I knew he was pondering.
“Hey Mom?” he replied
“What do you think heaven looks like?”
Gulp. There it was again. And that is how this particular conversation has gone every time for the last year that I’ve asked Isaac this question.
It scares this mother’s heart, yet I have given my son to Jesus. I have given my son to Jesus. I promised Jesus I would give him back on that summer day six years ago. I don’t know what that means, and I pray hard it doesn’t mean what it could. And maybe I’ve got it all wrong? Perhaps it simply means he’ll follow his Mom’s dream and become a missionary overseas one day? Maybe a pastor? A life devoted to ministry? I’d be good with all that.
I don’t know what God has planned for my Isaac, but I do have peace because no matter what, in this I rest- I know where my son is going on the day that God does take him back (hopefully a very, very long time from now). He loves and believes in Jesus, and so I know that he’s going to heaven. I’ve told him all I know about it- because he asks about it frequently. I tell him how there will be no more sadness and pain. No sickness or sin, streets of gold, joyful singing, mansions of glory, and everlasting peace. A reward for obedience, and faith.