“Yo estaba con Dios y el diablo, y yo llegamos a Dios.”

I was with God and the devil, and I reached out to God.

Prayer of thanks

These were the words of one of the Chilean miners rescued earlier this morning by a legion of rescue and aid workers, just moments after stepping out of the barely shoulder-width rescue capsule that reminds me of the capsules used by drive-through banks.  Later, another miner waved his small Bible in the air with his right hand after leaving the capsule, shouting praises to God as loud as his weary voice allowed him to.  And just a few minutes before I started writing this post, the rescuers pulled the 18th miner up from the depths of the earth.  After being released from his harness he immediately fell to his knees, crossed himself and prayed fervently while his wife rushed toward him, wrapping his shoulders in a blanket emblazoned with the image of the Virgin Mary, weeping with joy and relief as she then wrapped her own arms around her husband, nearly lost but now found.

As I wipe the tears from my eyes, I stop to consider the depths I’ve been in: the depths of sin, of shame, of sadness and anger and defeat.  I wander through the dark in this bitter cave of my own creation, trying to survive in body, sanity and spirit.  And I think about the Father who organized a massive rescue effort just for me, working tirelessly day and night that I would ascend through the black and eventually hear His voice calling from the opening above my head.

And I answer back, “Yes, Lord, here I am!”

And I am pulled out of the hole I dug for myself and into the strong waiting arms of my Father.

Bienvenido a casa.

Welcome home.

(Translations obtained from Google Translate.  Corrections welcome.)

The Art of Biblical Subtext (or, How Do Other People Pick Up On Things I Can’t Seem To???)

Genesis 22.  God calls on Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac to Him on a mountain in Moriah.  Abraham obeys, he doesn’t take Isaac and runs for the hills.  He willingly goes, bringing his as-of-yet clueless son with him.  As they climb the mountain, he says to the servant with them, “Stay here, for we will return.”  But the scriptures don’t explicitly say Abraham had no fear.  Isaac asks him where the animal for the sacrifice is, and he replies simply, “God will provide.”  He doesn’t deviate.  He doesn’t question.  And at the very last possible moment, or “right on time” in God’s Timing (something else that just baffles my mind), God intervenes and provides a ram for the sacrifice.

Now, it seems there are two possible explanations for Abraham’s statement: “Stay here, for we will return.”  The “we” indicates Abraham’s faith that God would let him keep his son.  On the one side, there’s the theory that Abraham knew God would provide an “out” for Isaac to be spared altogether, hence the ram in the thicket at the opportune moment.  “Oh look!  There’s a substitute for you, Isaac my boy!  Let’s get you out of these ropes and binds, shall we?”

But it seems to me that a more reasonable “human” response would be to delay, linger, procrastinate as much as possible to quell the nearness to the actual act of sacrifice, to put off tying Isaac up, or at least make the bonds loose so he could get free.  But no.  Isaac was bound tight as a drum in inescapable bonds and placed on the altar, like a turkey ready to be roasted.  This gives way to the other school of thought: Abraham believed God would resurrect his son and send him back down the mountain with him.

Reasonable, yes.  But how can we possibly read into Abraham’s mind when all we truly have to glean from is a play-by-play of the events as they occurred?  There’s no post-sacrifice wrap-up, no interviews with the individuals involved, no instant replays with close-ups of Abraham’s face looking for a tell of some sort.  Did he look around desperately as he was raising the knife to plunge into his son, praying fervently for a replacement?  Or did he expect to see his son walking down from higher up the mountain after being sacrificed, not a scratch or a burn on him, in a completely new body?

I plan on asking Abraham that someday.