We stay with Abraham for symbol number 5, a ram caught in a thicket, and a story that always makes me feel uncomfortable, even though it’s one that’s often told to children. Who needs gruesome fairy tales of murderous witches with poisoned apples or cannibalistic tendencies, bitter fairies who curse babies, or wicked stepmothers who are prototypes for today’s slavers, when you can have a Bible story of a deeply religious man, held up as a hero of faith, stopped only at the last moment as he is on the verge of killing his only child as a sacrifice to his God?
My sympathies lie with Isaac, who surely must have been traumatised by the whole event. Or am I making assumptions because of my modern day cultural sensibilities?
I feel rather sorry for the ram too – caught in a thicket, like Isaac, unable to escape, but unlike Isaac, no stay of execution.
There are times when I feel trapped, unable to evade my fate, and the more I struggle the worse it gets. Sometimes I confess I’ve felt caught in a Gordian knot of ever entangling thorns by the situation of my dad’s dementia and his increasing need for care. It doesn’t matter how much I bleat for help, there is no way out – for him or me. Or rather, there is only one way through and out of this particular thicket. It’s a cruel disease.
But there is hope in this story of Abraham and Isaac. God Himself stops him from harming his boy. God is not the cruel, vindictive deity Abraham thought him to be. God provides the sacrifice, a hint of the sacrifice He will later provide of His own son, the Lamb of God Himself. Perhaps I just have to look for Him, willingly caught up in this thicket with me.