Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. (Genesis 12:1 ESV)
The recounting of Abraham’s initial decision to follow the call of God is a relatively famous passage. It begins the story of one of the most well known Biblical patriarchs, and offers us some of the most beautiful Old Testament passages about the nearness of God’s presence.
This is where things begin. An ambiguous call, a faith-filled response, a journey initiated. But the curious thing to me, as I read this text, comes from the fact that I know the rest of the story of Abraham’s life already. We look at things differently when we come to a story with previous knowledge of the story’s conclusion. We pay attention differently each subsequent time we engage the tale because our perspective has changed (this is why, if for no other reason, reading the Bible everyday doesn’t grow stagnant). If you have ever seen the movie “The Sixth Sense” with Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment you know for a fact that seeing the movie the second time is completely different than seeing it the first time. I was looking for dead people everywhere the second time around, and I was asking different questions that I didn’t even know to ask during the first viewing. Knowing how the story plays out changes the way we see every other part.
I can’t help but see Abraham’s decision to leave his home, leave his family, and leave the life that he has known as a monumental act of faith. But, knowing the rest of his journey I also know that as profound as this verse is, Abraham would find himself perpetually at this place throughout the rest of his natural life. Leaving his home wasn’t the end-all decision of his life. He was going to make numerous other life-altering choices in the coming years. In fact, his journey with God was going to be defined by these multiple decisions, not just the one that he made that first day.
Similarly, I can be lulled into thinking that a single decision I’ve made, or a new, God-directed course that I’ve shifted my life toward, is the “one thing” that will keep me going for the rest of my life. But that just isn’t the case. In the healthy, growing Christian life, we find that each day holds a “one thing”. Each morning we are faced with a new decision to leave what we’ve known, the places of safety and security that are familiar to us and set out on the expedition that God is daily calling us to. Like Abraham’s, our lives will contain more than one defining moment, though that fact does not rob each moment of it’s own significance.
Today, we all find ourselves at a crossroad. We will either once again pack our necessities, saddle our camels (or Chevy’s), and step into places with God that we’ve never been…or we will choose to be disobedient. Our choice today is not between activity or complacency, it is between obedience or rebellion. God’s direction is not optional, but it is volitional. May we not believe that we “finished up” when we surrendered ourselves to Christ when the truth is that we began a journey at that moment, a journey that we will only know the end of when we see our Guide face to face.
Abraham’s decision came before he knew anything of the journey, the consequences, the dangers, or even the destination. The only thing he knew, presumably, was the trustworthiness of the Voice that called him. And it was based upon that and that alone that he set out into the darkness of an unrevealed future. We are no different. We who do not know what this day holds, can only offer ourselves to One who does.
Faith is like a bird that feels dawn breaking and sings while it is still dark.
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