Not Everyone is an Abraham

After dealing with the death of Abraham and a short view of the descendants of Ishmael, one would expect that we would then turn to the life of Isaac and begin to follow his life. While Genesis 25:19-26 starts by saying “This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Isaac,” it becomes clear rather quickly that the focus will not be on Isaac, but rather on his family line. Isaac’s sons, particularly Jacob, becomes the focus of the story.

Recently this has intrigued me. Isaac was the promised one. So much of Abraham’s story was spent in great tension. Would the promised son be born to Abraham and Sarah? Yes, he would be. Yet, the promised son has very little story of his own. His life seems rather overshadowed by his father’s life and the life of his sons. Even the chosen son of the promise does not seem to have the same kind of significant narrative of Abraham.

What we are told here is that like Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah are facing barrenness as well. However, unlike the case with Abraham and Sarah, the barrenness is resolved simply by Isaac praying to God and with God answering the prayer. It is all put so simply. God is still relied on for life, but everything is resolved in a much neater fashion than with Abraham.

After this though the story moves away from Isaac and begins to focus on the twins that are now wrestling around within Rebekah. Already Isaac is moved from the center. It is even Rebekah who inquires of the Lord here. The rest of the chapter then focuses on the sons of Isaac, which I’ll look into more next week. While Isaac does take center stage again in the next chapter, it is really the only story that is really his.

It just seems so anticlimactic to me. We have all this anticipation for Isaac, but hear very little of his life directly. While still a bearer of the promise of God, he is not a trailblazer like Abraham, and doesn’t run into a life of conflict like either Jacob or Joseph after him. His life appears successful as we’ll see in Genesis 36, but rather subdued in comparison.

This strikes me so much, because I’ve heard so many people who want to be like Abraham, Moses, or some other major Biblical figure. Not only do they want to be them, some also think that everyone should be. While I think there is truth to that, as we are all called to be like Christ, the focus often seems a bit different.

Maybe I’m completely off here, but when I hear talk about being like Christ it seems more focused on our character and our ability to love others. When I hear people talk about being like Abraham or Moses, it seems that the focus is on accomplishment. Not to say that Abraham, Moses, or other significant figures didn’t have character, but what we focus on is the accomplishment. We invoke Moses because we want authority over a group of people like Moses did, often forgetting how much of a struggle it was for Moses). We invoke Abraham because we feel like we are setting sail in uncharted waters and want God’s promise to guide us, again ignoring that Abraham had doubts and wrestled with the implications of what God presented.

There can be times where we feel that our lives have some commonality with these figures, and that is okay. The thing is not everyone is going to be an Abraham, a Moses, or a Paul. I’m also pretty sure that’s okay too. Are lives that are somewhat uneventful somehow less appealing to God? I don’t think that’s the case. Isaac seems to live a rather uneventful life in comparison to some of the other figures in Genesis, yet Isaac appears to trust in God and God appears to bless him.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, we might be pressured into feeling like we need to live up to some expectation placed on us to be just like someone else. I guess I don’t feel like that’s the case. In fact I’ve grown suspicious of people who try to compare themselves too closely to figures from the Bible. It seems like a power play to connect yourself to a authority figure. That’s not to say that we won’t see reflections of these stories play out in our own lives, but that we shouldn’t be trying to convince others we’re just like them.

We’re allowed to be who we are. That’s not to say we don’t have sin or flaws that need taken care of. It’s also not an excuse to just do whatever we please. It is just that we will be placed in unique positions and have unique strengths and weaknesses. We don’t have to be like Moses, Abraham, or whoever else in those circumstances, it is about being ourselves faithfully following after Jesus.

This may lead us to do amazing things that will be remembered for years to come, or it could lead us to a quieter, but faithful life that isn’t remembered except by those closest to us. Both are valid expressions of the faith we have.

Embracing Similarities and Differences

We only have two children, but it is pretty clear that they are not the same. They have some distinct differences, but at the same time there are also a number of similarities between the two of them. While I understand that reality, sometimes it is hard not to focus too much on what makes them alike or different.

Sometime it can seem like the differences between our kids are made into a negative thing. I was getting my hair cut a few weeks ago and during the haircut we were talking about what I did. After saying that I stayed home with the kids, the hairdresser eventually asked me if I had a favorite kid. I responded that I didn’t and that they can both be adorable and both be incredibly frustrating. They both have their pluses and minuses.

I often wonder if the idea of a favorite comes in because we ultimately want all of our kids to be just like that one. We want all of our kids to be the quiet well-behaved one; the outgoing and athletic one; or whatever combination of traits we like in one of our kids. We want them to be similar and so we try to force them into those roles that they just don’t fit into.

Trying to focus on making each child completely different may seem like a better idea, but I’m not sure it is. Mainly just because I think it requires ignoring the ways that they are the same. It doesn’t acknowledge common ground and the things they have in common which can be part of their relationship as they get older. I don’t really want my kids to think they’re completely different from each other and lack that common ground. Of course I don’t want them to think that they’re just carbon copies either.

I want to be able to see them for who they are; both in the ways that they are similar and the ways they are different. I don’t want them to be exactly the same, but I do want them to be able to have common ground and even common interests that may connect them as they grow up. At the same time I want our kids to be able to feel that their interests and personality are part of who they are. They don’t both have to like the same things, do things the exact same way, or have the same personality.

This can be a challenge. I mean our kids have been quite different. For example, Ryan as a baby and toddler did not get into much trouble. He never really pulled things off of shelves. If he ever did, all we needed to do was tell him no and he wouldn’t again. Anastasia on the other hand was not quite that way. She wasn’t to the point of making a gigantic mess by getting into flour or anything like that, but she would and still does grab anything she thinks she can have.

However, they are also very similar too. I mean there have been times that Anastasia has reacted in a very similar way to how Ryan acted when he was her age. They are both empathic little kiddos. They both love books and can spend a long time either looking at books themselves or being read to. They both love building with the big Duplo blocks and enjoy coloring although I’d say that they’ve influenced each other in these activities.

Maybe it is just easy to appreciate the similarities and differences when they’re this young. I don’t know, but I hope that I will be able to enjoy the similarities and differences in our kids both now and as they get older. To be able to acknowledge them as their own unique individuals, but also appreciate the places where you see that they are very much alike. We’ll just have to see how that goes as they continue to get older.