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A Ram in the Thicket

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Recently I was reading Genesis 22 with my boys, which recounts the story of when God “tested Abraham.” It’s amazing how even Scriptures that we are so familiar with take on new meanings in our current situations.

Going Forth in Obedience

Abraham was handpicked by God, and his descendants would become God’s people. There was just one problem—Abraham and his wife, Sarah, were too old to have children. However, God fulfilled their hopes and prayers through the birth of their son, Isaac.

In an unexpected twist, God asked Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering instead of the traditional animal sacrifice. You can imagine Abraham’s heartache when God asked him to kill his only son. Abraham and Isaac set off to the mountain, and during their hike, Isaac asks, “Father, where is the sheep?”

“God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham replies. He is already trusting God to provide an alternate sacrifice, going forth in obedience to the point that he builds an altar and ties Isaac up on it. Abraham is standing over his son with knife in hand, when he hears a voice from heaven say, “Don’t lay a hand on the boy. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son.”

That very moment, Abraham looked up, and there he saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. God provided!

He never wanted Abraham to actually sacrifice Isaac. He just wanted Abraham to come before Him with open hands, saying, “God, whatever You ask of me, it’s Yours. Even the thing I love most.” It’s more about the posture of his heart than his actions. Abraham’s love for God superseded his love for anything else the world had to offer—including his only son. True obedience is possible only when true trust is present. When we comprehend God’s love for us, we surrender and trust His ways over our own.

Surrender Everything

As I sat with my own son on the edge of the bed that night, a voice echoed in my heart: “What are you not willing to surrender to me?”

With these days of transition from France back to the United States for home assignment, there comes sacrifice and grieving. There are plenty of people, places, and things we are letting go of, and honestly, there are days when it feels like we have sacrificed enough. Then I am humbly reminded of what God sacrificed for me, and in comparison, I have done nothing.

God never promised it would be easy, but He did promise He would always be with us no matter what. Truly following Jesus requires deep love and obedience. In our pursuit of Him we must be willing to surrender absolutely everything. What is He asking you to put on the altar? If following Jesus hasn’t really cost us something, then we’re probably doing it wrong.

In these days God is calling us to trust Him above all else. We must lay our heads on the Father’s chest and listen to His heart. What is He saying? God is and always has been our Provider. Has He always given us what we want? No way! But He has always given us what we needed in that moment.

For those of you who are laying it all down and waiting for God to provide in a way that only He can, remember this promise: There’s a ram in the thicket.

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