“Every time I’ve climbed the mountain like Abraham did, in faith, I know that God has a ram in the bush. He ALWAYS provides me a way out.”~~Tracee
How many times in my life have I felt hopeless and fearful about my circumstances and AT THE LAST moment God has provided EXACTLY what I needed? There’s the story in the Bible about a man named Abrahm. He had been promised a son, and in his very old age a son was born–Isaac. Abraham was a man of great faith, but one day God told him that in order to prove that faith he was to take his beloved son, Isaac to the top of a mountain and sacrifice him. Let me explain what that means. In those days there was no grace and every so often people were required to sacrifice animals by tying them to an altar, slitting their throat, and burning them. It was an act of faith. It was usually a sheep or a lamb and the sacrifice had to be pure, the very best lamb.
Imagine if God said to you to do the same with any one of your children!! Isaac was a young man, with his whole life ahead of him. One morning his father came to him (remember by now Abraham is very very old) and he said, “Son, gather some wood and prepare to walk up the mountain with me. God has given me strict orders and I must obey.”
Together the two men began the journey to the top of the mountain. With each step I can imagine Jacob’s heart grew heavier as he timidly questioned God. “Really? You’ve taken me this far for this? What happened to your promise? Where are you, God?”
Isaac knew there was to be a sacrifice. He carried the heavy bundle of wood on his back. He saw the heavy knife his father had strapped to his side, and the rope he would use to tie the animal down. But there was no animal. “Where’s the sacrifice, Father?” He asked Abrahm as a bit of sweat beaded his brow. Abraham answered, “The Lord has provided the sacrifice, son,” as the trail grew more and more difficult to maneuver. In his mind he thought, “There are no animals up here. Why God?”
So many times in my life I’ve felt like Jacob–heavy with burden, seeming like there was no way out. I’ve questioned God–why are you allowing this to happen? Where are you, God?
One part of my life that comes to mind is when I felt so very hopeless as a young woman. I was 24 years old and so lonely. I was surrounded by friends but never felt loved. My heart was so heavy and I made the decision to sell everything I owned and move to another city–I felt very alone and asked God why I was so unlovable. Like Jacob even as I planned my move, as I packed my car with a suitcase of clothes, a lawn chair, a cardboard box of toiletries and a few photos, my heart was so heavy. I was climbing to the top of the mountain with no real hope for what would happen there. I just knew that I must move. No money, no job, nothing waiting for me in the next city….and the day I drove away I cried the whole way there wondering where was God in all of this.
As the trail grew more rocky and steep, the young man had to help the old one make the journey. Isaac knew that a sacrifice must be a firstborn without blemish. And he knew there were no sheep that would be waiting at the top of this mountain. Where is God in this?
Finally Abraham announced, “this is the spot” and together they prepared the altar. A man of great faith, Jacob moved methodically, now avoiding the eyes of this son he loved so very much. Issac did most of the work. He no longer questioned where the animal was, he just moved in obedience to his father.
The altar was built. “Son, lie down on the altar.”–his words were barely audible as he watched his son climb onto the wood stack. He thought of his wife Sarah, waiting as the sky grew darker, and how we would return to her without Isaac. Hopeless except for God’s promise. There is no doubt that even with his great faith his eyes began to cloud with tears. They rolled down his cheeks and fell silently onto the wood, the rope, and even onto the chest of his beloved son Isaac who now lay bound to the altar.
He walked away, knelt to the ground and prayed.
As I arrived in Dallas, Texas things were no better than they were in the city I had run from. In fact, they were worse. As lonely as I had felt before, now I had no friends, no family, nothing –and the bit of money I had saved went to the first month’s apartment rent. I got a job at a hotel bar, collected my tip money in a big jar in my empty apartment living room, sat in my reclining plastic pool chair, my cardboard box turned upside down as a table, drinking from a gallon jug of white wine in a shallow attempt to forget about the hurt and pain I was feeling. In an attempt not to feel. Even though I didn’t really know God I still questioned Him. “Why God? Where are you? Why am I here?”
As the weeks passed things became even more hopeless. I realized that I was pregnant and with a life growing inside of me, I felt like Jacob as he raised the knife over Isaac….”God, are you for real?? I’ve lived for THIS? Is this the best you can do?! Really? Where ARE YOU??? Where are you when I need you most?”
I wonder if Abraham felt a little angry. He was a man, he wasn’t perfect. He had made many mistakes. Is this really YOU, God? He had to be questioning that he had heard from God. The knife is raised. Sweat mixed with hot tears now forms a pool on Isaac’s innocent chest. Both men’s eyes are closed tightly. Neither can bear the pain of this moment. Isaac hears it first. His ears are younger and his senses are elevated. He smells the musty odor of the wood beneath him, he feels the heat of his father’s body standing over him, even with his eyes shut he senses the height of the knife above him….but he HEARS the whispered bleat of the ram. Did Abraham hear it too?
One last prayer, perhaps even for forgiveness as Abraham numbly raises the knife. He forces his mind to be numb, he feels his own heart beating in his chest, he has no more strength in his body….and he hears it. It’s so faint that at first he thought he imagined it. He paused, waiting. He heard it again.
He turned toward the sound. There, in the bush, a ram! Horns tangled in the thorny thickness of the only patch of weeds and underbrush, a ram! God had provided the sacrifice! Hope where there was no hope! He wept openly now, knowing that God had prepared in advance exactly what he needed! God had gone before him, supplying him exactly what he needed even in his most hopeless of moments. The ram in the bush!!
As I sat looking at the almost empty gallon of wine, I remember thinking how can I go on like this? What a cruel joke God played on me. No one to love me and yet now I have a baby growing inside of me that needed me. A baby who deserved so much more than I could give, and yet who I knew would love me without question. But I had nothing. No way to raise him alone.
My story is complete in a chapter of a book we published, “The Voice That Changed Everything”, but as I flew back to Monroe and hot burning tears made me avoid the eyes of the person sitting next to me, shame and fear enveloped me as I thought they all must know how horrible I am, how unlovable.
I saw his eyes as I told him the news, his disbelief that he was the father, his anger, his hurt. I asked him to marry me, to give me a chance to prove to him that I could love him, and somehow I convinced him, even in my disbelief, that he could love me. On the morning of the third day I remember exactly the whisper of his voice. “I will marry you,” he said. That was 32 years ago. Looking back, I realize that God had gone before me and prepared everything I needed, including Bobby’s heart. Just when I thought no one could ever love me, God gave me a husband and a son — and the most abundant love any woman could ever experience.
There have been so many times when Bobby and I felt hopeless, tired, weary, wondering how God was going to supply our needs and He has ALWAYS supplied a ram in the bush.
Robby, our son, was in pain for 12 years…..I wrote a letter to God giving up all hope that Robby would be healed, a ram in the bush–Reliv nutrition.
Bobby went to work on September 6, 2002–only to find his company closed down and our income was cut off. But God was way ahead of us and out of nowhere my business exploded and our income doubled and we never missed a beat. Another ram.
There are so very many. As we’ve grown in our faith-walk and our relationship with God, our Father, as our purpose is continually being revealed, all of these memories are distant and surreal, almost as if they happened to someone else. But I am certain that in times of heartache or pain Abraham looked back at that moment that he heard the faint whisper of the ram that day. That moment changed everything. If he had any doubt that God would accomplish what He promised, all Abraham had to do was close his eyes and remember that moment. That moment that he heard the whisper of God in the bleating of the ram.
God has a way out for you too. He didn’t bring you this far to abandon you when you need Him most. Your faith is being tested. He must know that you will follow Him and trust His Word, His promise to YOU. If you don’t have faith, if you don’t even know Him, (as I didn’t 32 years ago!!) He still has a plan for you, a way out of your mess! Are you Abraham? Standing over your beloved son, knife raised, tears streaming? Are you Isaac, bound and tied down, praying that something might change but no idea how that is even possible?
Even as I write these words I question God. How can I impact the life of anyone who reads this? What am I supposed to do if someone says, “Yes, that’s me! Please help me!” Here’s what I know….when I’m standing on the edge of every cliff wondering how I’m going to pull this off, God supplies the wings! So even now….even now there are rams waiting for each of you who need it! For each of you who would ask. I am climbing this mountain carrying the wood, the rope, the knife…..and God WILL supply the ram!
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