A Ram in the Thicket: The Lord Will Provide
A Ram in the Thicket: The Lord Will Provide
By Deacon Keith Fournier
(c) Third Millenium, LLC
A simple woman of faith teaches the lessons of life.
Wanda was a simple woman, a Christian, and a dedicated mother. I would come to discover that she was much more.
She was a mystic.
She contacted me because she needed legal help. Barely making ends meet, supporting her family day to day, she hadn't budgeted for a major car disaster. That old thing had held up pretty well. However, the transmission was shot and she had to take it in for repair.
Wanda left her car at the repair shop and waited for the bad news. It was worse than she had expected! The cost of repair was beyond anything she had even braced for. What followed was worse.
After the repairs were done, the serviceman had parked the car out in front of the shop (located in the inner city) with the keys in the ignition. His excuse was that the garage was full! Not surprisingly, Wanda's car was stolen! Not only was the insurance company offering less than what she owed (Wanda had been the victim of a loan company that committed usury---taking advantage of her disadvantage) but the repair shop was insisting on being paid for the repairs!
A friend told Wanda that I might be able to help even though she could not afford a lawyer. She also heard that I was a man of faith. By the time it was all over, it was Wanda who had helped me. She changed my life.
I did the dance I have learned to do after all these years of law practice. I negotiated, first from a position of what was just, and only then, when it became clear that the parties were not altruistic, by shifting the risk.
After all, who in a small claims court environment was going to be sympathetic to a business that parked a customer's car outside in a high crime district with the keys inside? What usurious loan company that took advantage of the disadvantaged would not be expected to write off part of it's ill gotten gains rather than run the risk of public exposure for it's exorbitant rates and questionable business practices?
At each step of the dance I kept Wanda informed. She was without a car, taking a bus daily to work, and had increased her hours in order to pay for the added expenses occasioned by the loss of her means of transportation. She never complained. Rather, she always responded with an extraordinary confidence that God would provide and take care of her family.
Her response to difficulty was not anger, blame or the naive kind of starry-eyed faith of a new convert. She was strong and resolute. It was a deep kind of conviction birthed in the furnace of failure, disappointment and perseverance. She KNEW that God would make a way.
When it was all over and Wanda was able to walk away with no financial obligations, I felt good. She deserved it. I enjoyed hearing her sincere "God bless you" on the other end of the telephone line.
We both went on with our lives.
Four weeks later, I was facing a severe crisis in my own life and career. I long ago learned that living by faith simply does not mean that everything will go smoothly. Anyone who says otherwise is either a con man (or woman), a liar, or insincere. Period. But this crisis was not bearing the fruits that redemptive suffering, joined to the cross, had done in my life in the past. In short, I was in serious "funk", depressed, despondent and hopeless.
I received a card in the mail from Wanda. Inside she expressed her gratitude for my legal assistance and wrote these words: "There is always a ram in the thicket." I was sure I recognized the reference but I was somewhat puzzled. I searched the scriptures and found them in the first Book of the Bible, Genesis:
"Abraham looked and there in the 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' ". (Genesis 22:13-14)
The story of Abraham's life of faith provides an extraordinary insight into the vocation of the Christian life. He is championed, among other New Testament passages, in the hall of heroes of the faith detailed in the eleventh chapter of the letter to the Hebrews. His faith is presented as a model throughout the Christian tradition.
The early Father's of the Church expounded upon his willingness to sacrifice "Isaac" (the son of the promise) as a prototype of what we moderns would call "where the rubber hit's the road" in understanding and living the life of faith. Abraham was a man who lived complete abandonment to -and trust in-God.
Wanda was truly his daughter. I had much to learn and she was one of teachers who the Lord had sent to me.She was the angel who would show me that there is always a ram in the thicket.
Praying the Liturgy of the Hours one morning, I read these words from the great mystic priest John of the Cross: -.
"Would that men might come at last to see that it is quite impossible to reach the thicket of the riches and wisdom of God except by first entering the thicket of much suffering, in such a way that the soul finds there its consolation and desire. The soul that longs for divine wisdom chooses first, and in truth, to enter the thicket of the cross."
My personal difficulties did not subside and the circumstances did not change...at least not immediately. However, I began to have new eyes to see the "ram in the thicket." Over the months the darkness subsided and I began to understand.
"The Lord will provide." Wanda was right.
Like John of the Cross-and all the sons and daughters of Abraham throughout the ages, she had uncovered the hidden treasures mined only at the foot of the Cross. It was there that Love Himself became the offering. It is there where suffering and sorrow are bathed in Blood.
She, like the women at the foot of the Cross, understood. I believe Wanda is a mystic.
Oh, some would object to my use of the word. After all, she had no "theological education", no clerical office, and little notoriety... All the more reason for me to believe that she was a gift, and an "angel" from God.
The same mystical Epistle that teaches us about Abraham tells us that "angels" (the word means messenger) can show up when you least expect them. The writer reminds us: "Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." (Hebrews 13:1-2)
He now invites us all into the holy oblation. When we accept the invitation we find the ram in the thicket.
Rev. Mr. Keith A Fournier is the founder and president of "Common Good" (http://www.commongoodonline.com). He is also the founder and editor of "Catholic Way" (http://www.catholicway.org).Attorney Fournier is a constitutional lawyer and the founding partner of "Lentz, Stepanovich and Fournier, P.L.C. Long active in political participation, Fournier is also a policy activist. He was a founder of Catholic Alliance and served as its first President. He is a pro-life and pro-family lobbyist. He was the first Executive Director of the ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice). He served as an advisor to the presidential campaign of Steve Forbes. Fournier holds a Bachelors degree (B.A.) from Franciscan University of Steubenville in Philosophy and Theology, a Masters Degree (M.T.S.) in Sacred Theology from the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University, a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the University of Pittsburgh and an Honorary Doctor of Laws (L.L.D.) from St. Thomas University. Fournier is the author of seven books on issues concerning life, faith, evangelization, ecumenism, family, political participation, public policy and cultural issues. He is a features editor for Catholic Online and the Co-Director of "Your Catholic Voice"
http://www.commongoodonline.com VA, US
Deacon Keith Fournier - Founder, Deacon, 757 546-9580
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