When you write about home, both as longing and loss, you can’t help but bump into the story of Abraham. He is, of course, the man that God calls to leave home in order to find home. But as you read his story in Genesis, you can’t help but see that there’s no real permanent home that Abraham ever finds, at least not on this earth. In fact, reflecting on his story centuries later, the writer of Hebrew concludes that Abraham died “not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that [he was] a stranger and exile on the earth” (Heb. 11:13).
The most troubling episode in Abraham’s life is the story of Genesis 22, which people call, “The Binding of Isaac.” God has asked Abraham to do something much harder than leave home. He’s asked him to take his son, his only son, the son he loves, and sacrifice him on an altar.
If you thought that the Bible only recorded sweet, saccharine stores, you have missed Genesis 22. It’s a hard story — and yet it’s a story that prefigures another Father and another Son, the God-Man Jesus Christ.
I’ve written about Genesis 22 in a poem, and I’d love to share it with you here.
Like tent stakes, I pull it up,
Load my beast with the longing to stay put.
They don’t know
Go is a hard word.
Three days he carries us;
I, with child, yielding mute yes.
Go is a hard word,
Take, harder still.
“Third days are for resurrection.”
I’d like to believe them, imagining myself
Come back again.
“Here I am,” I’ll shout, son in tow,
Laughing, with relief.