A short, true story with a moral lesson.
They came to the place which God had told him of. Abraham built the altar there, and laid the wood in order, bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, on the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand, and took the knife to kill his son. Yahweh's angel called to him out of the sky, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" He said, "Here I am." Genesis 22:9-11 WEB
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you had a split second to make a decision that could change your life? I like to call these situations aha moments. It is times like these that really show us who we are. The quick decisions do not allow us enough time to think about what we should do or how others will react to our choice. We see what our instincts are. Who we are at the core becomes, sometimes painfully, apparent.
A fantastic method of ending up in those aha moments is rock climbing. Hanging from a cliff by your fingers and toes with gravity constantly working to pry you off is a great recipe for discovering who you truly are. You just never know when gravity might get you. The high stress, the fear of falling, and the sense of your own mortality combine to wash away your facade and expose what you are really made of.
I recall distinctly two aha moments of my own. They are similar in many respects, but I learned very different things about myself in each. The first took place at a climbing destination called Leda in Tennessee. I was out for the day climbing with my girlfriend and my family. The route was not particularly difficult, maybe a 5.7 for those who are climbers. Putting up the rope had been designated to me so I was the first climber up the route. I placed protection as I climbed and my girlfriend Becky was the belayer (person who holds the other end of the rope to catch my fall).
The season was autumn and there were leaves everywhere. When the wind swept across the top of the rock formation, sometimes leaves or small pebbles were blown down on us. Everyone wore helmets, but safe climbers warn those below of falling debris by calling out "rock". Nearing the top of the route I could see over the edge. I heard the leaves reselling but did not hear or feel the wind. I looked around to see a long black snake gliding down the slope on a pile of loose leaves. Many things rushed through my mind.
I knew the snake was going to fall and scare them. If Becky let go of the rope I could fall to the ground. I could have chosen to call out "snake" and warn them. I was afraid it might cause them to run. So instead I called out "rock" because I knew they would huddle as close to the base of the cliff to avoid getting hit. This would give me enough time to get a good hold on the rock in case my belayer made a break for it.
When the snake hit the ground, they were surprised it was not a rock. Of course none of them ran. Becky would never have left me there dangling on the rock. In that aha moment I discovered my selfishness and miss-trust of others, and so did my family.
On another rock climbing trip to Tennessee Wall I was climbing alone with one friend. We had been friends for several years and had been through many things together. After selecting a route I was again chosen to climb first. My friend belayed. About ten feet from the top I heard a loud snap! I did not see what had caused the noise. All I could do was to cling to the cliff and yell "rock"! After it crashed to the ground, I looked down to see if my friend was ok. My warning had barely given him enough time to jump out of the way of a large six-foot log! It landed only feet from him. In that aha moment I learned I trusted my friend completely. I was not scared he would run. I only thought of warning him to get out of the way. I knew I could trust him with my life.
Abraham had an aha moment when God asked him to sacrifice his son. I imagine all the way up to the place of sacrifice Abraham was questioning whether he would actually be able to go through with it. But in that moment, when he raised the knife, when all hesitation was gone, that is when Abraham knew. He knew that nothing he had, nor even is own family was more important to him than God. Pray today for your own aha moment to learn what God desires you to know about yourself.