In Genesis 12 we’re not told how Abram felt. What we do know is that God was calling him to leave everything familiar: his country, his family, and his home. And he did. He packed up and left, knowing only that God had made promises concerning his future. Big promises. In fact, he initially didn’t even know where he was going. “Go from your country . . . to the land that I will show you.” Were it not for the trustworthy nature of God, it would all sound a bit risky.
And so it began. A journey that would encompass numerous twists and turns. Underlying all of the various points along the way were the increasingly specific promises of God, promises that also no doubt reassured Abram (eventually renamed Abraham) of God’s faithfulness. However uncertain circumstances may have sometimes seemed to Abraham (and to Sarah his wife), the challenge was always to trust that God knew what he was up to. Certainly, neither Abraham nor Sarah always managed to do this. But thankfully this didn’t stop God from keeping his promises, from being a constant presence in their lives, faithfully drawing them along, forgiving, correcting, testing.
Following what we discern to be God’s call in our lives is a joyful privilege and a step of faith into the unknown. The future, at least from our point of view, is unwritten, full of possibilities both wondrous and fearsome. Psalm 139 tells us that all of our days “were formed for me, when none of them yet existed.” If we believe this to be so, then like Abraham we can take that step out of familiar and comfortable territory because we know that not only is God with us but that he goes ahead of us preparing the way.
As it happens, my family and I are in the midst of taking such a step. After nearly 9 years of pastoring at Nerepis Baptist Church, we will be moving to Nova Scotia. Another church has called me (or as I prefer to think, called us as a family) to serve. And while I definitely realize that our step of faith may not be on par with that of Abraham’s, there is something of a parallel here for us. We too are leaving familiar country, moving from one province to another. We’re also leaving our kindred, because for the last 12 years we have lived very close to my in-laws. Now the cost and time to visit them will mean seeing them much less, and since we are quite close this will be quite a change. And lastly, of course, we’re leaving our immediate community: church family, friends, and neighbours. Go from your country . . . to the land I will show you.These are words that resonate deeply with us at the moment.
Go. Trust. Take that step of faith. So we are. And we do so because we have done so before and have come to experience God’s faithfulness. Yes, we do so with a mix of excitement and fear, of anticipation and anxiety, but it’s always that way when following the call of God. The only certainty when following such a call is God himself, his presence, his promises. Indeed, this is true of all of life. You don’t have to be in vocational ministry to be called. God, through Jesus, calls each one of us to follow, to trust, to believe, and to live with his presence at the centre of our lives. Jesus says “repent and believe in the good news” and “follow me.” One invitation reinforces the other. They are two ways of saying the same thing.
With this in mind, let me simply conclude by saying that God also invites you on such a journey. It’s a journey that begins with coming to faith in Jesus and continues as we follow him, trusting that he knows where he’s leading us. Because God is faithful it means having the same assurance as Abraham, that whatever difficulties we encounter his ultimate will is to bless us and make us a blessing.