“Nothing can prepare a dad to see his son suffer,” said Pastor Scott Poling as he opened Wednesday’s second general session. Poling, senior pastor of Harvest New Beginnings, Oswego, Illinois, went on to recount the heartbreaking experience of watching his son suffer a seizure. It was a graphic reminder of life’s seemingly ever-present sharp edges, which God in His providence uses to test His children.
Preaching from Genesis 22, Poling discussed the tests of life and love that God allows us to go through. “It’s so easy to say ‘yes, of course, we love You, God,’” said Poling. “But just because we’ve dedicated our lives to the Lord doesn’t mean we always trust Him. We like life to be comfortable and in control.”
Paralleling Abraham’s test, Poling introduced six points on passing life’s tests.
- Expect them. No one is immune to trials, and tests often come in waves. Abraham’s test, being told to sacrifice his son, was extreme. “Isaac was Abraham’s pride and joy, the promised son,” Poling reminded. “God may ask for something that your identity is wrapped up in.”
- Move immediately. “The earlier you start on the journey of obedience, the better.” Poling encouraged starting early when “traveling” with God and not trying to demand more information of God.
- Worship, not worry. Traveling with his son, Abraham didn’t complain about losing his son. Instead, they traveled with the intention of worshiping together. “Don’t bemoan what you’ve lost,” said Poling. “Open your hands and freely offer it to God.”
- Believe God. In saying he and Isaac would return to the servants, Abraham took God at His word. He believed in God’s promise, power, and provision. “What God has called you to do, God will provide for you to do. . . . Look at your God: He hangs the stars and raises people from the dead. He can provide.”
- Finish what you’ve started. As Abraham put Isaac on the altar, both he and his son showed incredible faith. “The faith of the father has rubbed off on the son,” said Poling. “If you want your faith to rub off on your children, you’ve got to model it.”
- Pass with God’s approval. With every trail we experience, we learn something new about the character of God, and as Abraham passed the test, he learned that he had a God Who provides.
Poling concluded by reminding that, two thousand years ago, another Father and Son took a walk together—not to Mount Moriah, but to Mount Calvary. “This Son, the rightful heir—also a son of promise, like Isaac—would have descendants like the sand and stars. Not born through Him, but born again by Him. It’s who I am; it’s who you are.”