I'll be honest, this is one of the hardest passages for me to read. Seeing God ask Abraham to do the unthinkable is way beyond my comprehension. As a mother I question if I am doing the right things all the time. I doubt my abilities, decisions, qualifications. I wonder if I am doing 'permanent damage' that will cause them to tell stories that start with, "When I was younger, your grandmother....." as they recount some horrible childhood experience. This may sound a bit dramatic but it's true. I can't even begin to wonder what might have gone through Isaac's mind as his father was tying him up and subsequently letting him go.
But after all that Abraham had been through with God, he had a faith that knew he could trust God, even with the life of his only son. In the midst of preparation Abraham believed that God would provide what was needed. And true to form, God stepped in at just the right time but what must have felt like an eternity of waiting to Abraham. And here's the kicker.....Abraham was not only willing to sacrifice his son as God had asked, but clearly he was willing to sacrifice his marriage as well. I don't know Sarah personally, but I imagine that if things had turned out differently, there love just might not have been enough to overcome this type of act.
Well on the other side of this account, we are thankful that Abraham's obedience brought about a blessing to all of us because we are his descendants. And we can see that sometimes climbing a mountainous obstacle with the weight of the circumstances across our shoulders is the way God chooses to show His provision and glory. As Ann Voskamp says in The Broken Way...."it is a thing to call the place you live provision."
The broken self will of Abraham, the willingness to not bend the truth to his advantage, and the sacrifice of his determined spirit could be what God was really after. God will always hold back what He wants to give us if we are holding on to anything but Him. Maybe sometimes we need to let it go and put in on the altar ourselves.