I have had the pleasure of taking a few road trips with my family and traveling through Europe with my wife. I enjoy going places, seeing new things, trying new foods and having some adventures. However, after having those adventures, I typically like to come home and return to where I came from. There’s a comfort and and safety in the familiarity in home. Just as often as we like to get away from home we like to return to it. Today’s reading features God calling Abram to leave his home and never return. To go to a new land where God is going to do something great and new with Abram.
The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your land, your family, and your father’s household for the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation and will bless you. I will make your name respected, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, those who curse you I will curse; all the families of the earth will be blessed because of you.” Abram left just as the Lord told him, and Lot went with him. Now Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran.
Genesis 12:1-4 (CEB)
Abram was 75 years old and God told him to move everything he had to a new country and a place Abram was not familiar with. This would be quite an undertaking as leaving the familiar and friendly lands of ones family in the ancient world was practically unheard of, not recommended and potentially disastrous. It’s hard to make a modern day equivalent but it might be something like cutting up a social security card, medical insurance card, withdrawing everything from your bank accounts, 401k and moving to a foreign country.
Essentially, Abram was leaving his safety net for an far away country all on the promise that God would make his family into something great. This would be a good time to remind you that Abram was 75 years old and he had no children. Sarai his wife was barren and God is promising to make them a great nation in an unknown, possibly unfriendly country.
This does not sound like a safe bet.
But, God is in the business of keeping promises and rewarding faithfulness.
Lent is a time in which we are called to venture to the far away, unknown and possibly unfriendly country. We are called to fast and leave behind something we thought might be necessary for our survival and happiness. In giving something up we are challenged to rely more on God, less on ourselves, and rest in the promises He’s given us. This can take many forms and might not necessarily just be in the fast we’ve chosen.
Take for example the church my family recently moved to. We had no idea what God had in store for the church when we moved but things began to change very quickly. They were already in the process of reevaluating the church’s mission and vision and how to grow the church into the future. Within two months after we arrived, their worship director stepped down and the founding pastor of 25 years announced he was leaving. While this might have given some new visitors pause or encouragement to seek a more “stable” environment, we had already decided that our move to this church would be one of faith and reliance on God. We knew our family was going into foreign territory with this move but we did not imagine that the church we had moved to would also be joining us on that journey. It seemed (to me) that we had all heard God’s call into a new land and were stepping out in faith, hoping in God’s promises and relying on Him in ways we had never previously imagined.
This is just my example, your journey probably looks very different this Lent but God has called us all out of somewhere to a place where he can further fulfill his promises to us.
Maybe you’re leaving a relationship to learn to rely on God and be less codependent.
Maybe you’re leaving food to learn to see yourself as God sees you and to be more healthy.
Maybe you’re leaving an unsafe, hurtful and abusive environment to learn how God can heal you and build you up.
Maybe you’re leaving some kind of media to hear God better and to reduce the noise and mental clutter.
Maybe you’re cleaning out some shelves and closets to learn that God will provide for you as you provide for others in need.
Maybe you’re changing jobs to follow a dream that God has planted in your heart and so you can learn who he really created and empowered you to be.
All our Lenten journeys, fasts and experiences are different. What is common though is that God is constantly calling us towards him, to his land for us, to the better place he has prepared for us and wants to show us. Like Abram we will probably have to leave behind what feels comfortable and safe and choose to live into the life and promise God has given us. The path of Lent is not always easy. As Abram’s journey was fraught with trouble and questions so too will our journeys hit bumps and snags. But, as with Abram, our faithfulness and trust in God along the way is what counts.
Abram believed the Lord, and he [God] credited it to him [Abram] as righteousness.
Genesis 15:6 (NIV)
What Lenten journey are you on? How are you having to trust in God more? How has your journey been difficult? What promises of God are you relying on? Do you believe that God will honor your faithfulness?