Ram in the Thickets

What we love the most, we hate most to lose. This is universal I am sure. Not up for debate or personal preference. It is just plain true.

I have found in my faith journey that God has sometimes called me to let go of someone I love or something I love. This has run the gamut. Letting go of people in my family in a seasonal and/or figurative sense. Letting go of a semi-lucrative career in education in order to work in educational ministry. Letting go of achievement and possible accolades in order to serve others. Letting go of a reputation in some cases. Letting go of comfort in order to do some uncomfortable, but right things. Letting go of my right to be right. Letting go of my need to be noticed. Letting go of foods and beverages that don’t do me any favors. Hands down, it is hardest to let go of people, especially family. Not ready to blog about that yet…

Genesis 22:1-2 says, “Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love — Isaac- and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.’ ” Abraham may have asked questions, but it is not recorded. In scripture, Abraham simply obeyed. I can only imagine that his relationship with God had grown to the point where he didn’t question…

When God tests our faith, He brings us to a crossroads that absolutely contradicts our normal instincts. The story of Abraham and Isaac defies human reasoning and makes us wonder if God is good. We find in this story redemption, a timely ram in the thickets, and a foreshadowing of Jesus Who would come and be the slain Lamb Who takes away the sins of the world, Who would die in our place, conquer death and bring about our salvation. We see a merciful and compassionate God Who authenticates faith.

Genesis 22:9-14 says, “…He (Abraham) bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ he said. ‘Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from Me your son, your only son.’ Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.’ “

I enjoy quilting and just recently started a Jesse Tree quilt. It consists of blocks that tell the story of the Bible in pictures. The block posted above symbolizes the ram in the thickets. Coincidentally or not, the construction of this quilt block occurred about the same time we were studying Genesis 22 in Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). I do love it when God brings several things together like this to make His point in my life…

Anything that hijacks my heart and replaces God as the chief object of my affections needs to be sacrificed. I sincerely don’t want my faith to be weakened by idols, especially people or their expectations of me. If God is not number one, I remain confident that He loves me enough to free me from clinging to the things that I love, especially when I love them more than Him. He provided the ultimate ram in the thickets – Jesus Christ. I won’t soon forget that. Although it has taken me nearly a lifetime of tests of faith – some failed, some passed – I question what hijacks my heart right now, and then I must bind it and let it go.

Tune My Heart


My two nieces dedicated their baby boys at church on Sunday. Family members took up three-and-a-half rows in the front center of the church. This was a mile marker, for sure. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” That is definitely what happened. Desires of the heart fulfilled.

We come from a family of believers. How great to see the next generation! Dedicated to God!

When King David was nearing the end of his life, he was grateful that God had given him the ability and longevity to see his son Solomon succeed him as leader of Israel. I Kings 1:48 says, “And [David] said, ‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has allowed my eyes to see a successor on my throne today.’ ” This is when you really know that it is “well with your soul.” You are encouraged about the future, the legacy of faith, the Christian heritage being passed along in your family. You actually get to see it.

There is another hymn that I have known forever it seems. I have played it many times on the piano in my various churches, starting back in my teen years. “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” was a tune that I learned from a young age. I know I’ve sung it many times, but never being gripped by the lyrics. Until now.

This one line – “Tune my heart to sing Thy grace” has gripped me. It helps to have lived a long time (like I have). The tuning is much better, much more accurate. I can really see God’s grace in a much deeper way. I can see the blessings in broad daylight, living color.

We recently tried to find a new home for our Knabe Baby Grand piano. It was a bittersweet project because it had much sentimental value as well as antique value. There was some interest out there in the world of piano seekers and dealers, and a logistical challenge we faced regarding its physical moving (oh my). But, imagine the comfort that came from one of our children deciding to take it! It’s one legacy being passed on, one heritage, the story of this great piano preserved in our family.

Such reminders of God’s grace come through different means, even piano moving. We sing “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” fairly often in Bible Study Fellowship (of which I am a regular participant). The words are familiar. The lyrics inspired. But, when did it actually grab my heart? Only a few Sundays ago. When I realized that my heart has finally been tuned into God’s grace in innumerable ways. “Tune my heart to sing Thy grace” jumped out, and then a week or so later – the dedication of the baby boys to God… And then, a home for a beloved piano and all its great memories. Thank you God.

It is well with my soul.