I've been mulling over a single sentence spoken by our church's senior pastor a few weeks ago.
'There's always a ram in the bushes.'
He was speaking in the context of Isaiah 52. He was giving a wonderful sermon about Zion. Full of hope. Full of deep wonderful thoughts. I really appreciated what I got from the sermon, but that one sentence stuck out to me.
And no matter which angle I came at it from I felt the same way.
That quote is wrong. WRONG
Now, please understand, I get that there has been the ultimate Ram in the bush. That we never need to look for someone to die in our place. That Someone already has paid the ultimate price and I am eternally grateful. I do not want to diminish that in the least.
When I read the story of Abraham and Isaac, I see a father and a son. I see an earthly father being asked to give up his earthly son. I see an earthly father in unbearable pain. I see a father who suffers. I see a son not understanding why he has to die. The story ends so beautifully. God providing an earthly solution for an earthly family. It's the kind of feel good story that makes it seem like I can understand God.
But in my life there's not always a ram. At least not an earthly one.
I just came from the bedside of a woman I love. She is dying a slow, terrible death. She is doing it with grace, dignity and even joy. She knows the eternal Ram. But, there is no earthly ram waiting to take her place.
I came from spending several hours with another woman I love. Her husband's future is in the air. There is no earthly ram for him. Praise God, he does know his eternal Ram.
I could go on but I don't need to. You see the terrible suffering. You see the world falling apart. I don't pretend otherwise, I don't understand these things about God. I don't have to 'get' it all. I know He knows. I know the suffering as well as the joy is in His hands and in His plan. One thing I know, the ultimate Ram has come and now I am waiting for His return.
There are many, many stories of hope. Many stories of 'rams' that still come. There are hearts that come just as a transplant is needed. There are cancers that disappear. There are amazing acts of kindness that take place everyday. There are people of the church who act as His hands and feet. I see them. I know they exist.
Yet, I wait. These earthly rams are but a small taste of the divine hope that is to come. My heart is hurting. My eyes blink back tears as I prepare my heart to say goodbye to ones I love. I'm tired of the bandages that these earthly rams are. As much as I would love for them to be the end all, I'm so glad they aren't. I'm so glad that my hope does not lie in things of this world.
The more I think and ponder and meditate on Isaiah, the more I am glad that there isn't always a ram in the bush. Cancer comes back. Bodies that have been fixed will break again. Hearts will need to be mended...again. Tears will need to be dried more than once. Thank God for that! If there was always a ram in the bush, I wouldn't long so much for my real home. The one I'm still waiting to see.
Waiting with hope.
Waiting with Faith.
Waiting for my true Love.