Summary: Answer God’s call and you will be blessed.
It’s for You
Several years ago, I read an article about the most ridiculous requests received by rangers in national parks. People have asked questions like, "What time do the bears come out?"
But people who spend a lot of time outdoors, like hikers, backpackers, mountain climbers, and so on, do need to pay attention to a number of things. Things like keeping warm and dry, drinking enough fluids, eating the right kind of foods, trip planning, map and compass skills, and what to do if you are lost or even suspect you are lost.
Now imagine you’re Abraham without modern advantages such as a map and compass. God comes and calls you, telling you to travel hundreds of miles to a new land. God promises you three things: many descendants, great wealth, and land. You see a few problems, however. First, you don’t have any kids after so many years of marriage. Descendants? You gotta be kidding! Second, you and Sarah are both old, interest rates are down, so there’s not much time to build up a nest egg. Third, the land God has promised you is already occupied. What do you do? Do you stay put and live in the security of what you have? Or do you go to the land God would show you and be overwhelmingly blessed?
God’s call and Abraham’s response are important. It is the flagship for all later calls. As we study Abraham’s call, hopefully it will help us to understand and accept our own call from God.
NOTICE: Abraham wasn’t searching for God - God called out to Abraham. God initiated the relationship. God reached out to Abraham and called him to a greater future than Abraham could provide for himself. Why did God do this? God wanted to know him and be a part of his life on a deep and personal level. And God wants to have that kind of relationship with each of us.
NOTICE ALSO: what God didn’t call Abraham to do. God didn’t call Abraham to enter the ministry. He wasn’t called to attend a seminary somewhere, become an ordained minister or start a new church.
What did God call Abraham to do? The same thing Jesus called Matthew to do. “Follow me.” That’s it. “Follow me.” The rest of God’s call to Abraham was a promise - what God would do for Abraham. All that Abraham had to do was to gather his family together in faith and follow God to the place God would show him.
That same invitation is given to each of us: “follow me.”
Each one of us as Christians has been called. That is a big part of what we, as Presbyterians, believe. We have been called to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ. We have been called to claim God’s promise of love, eternal life, and forgiveness. We have been called to have a relationship with the living God.
And like Abraham, we are called to begin a life that is different than our past. We too are called to begin a journey that will be unfamiliar to us. A journey that may be long and difficult. A journey that may become uncomfortable at times. But we have to step out in faith, like Abraham stepped out in faith.
I know how hard that is for us to do. We have to know where we’re going, what troubles we might encounter, the route we’re taking. When we go on a trip, we have to get out the road map and study it. I’m just like that. I’ll study the map, but I do remember when we went to Disneyworld the first time. We went with friends of ours who had driven there many times and we just followed them without any thought as to whether we were on the right road. They knew the way.
When God told Abraham that he would show him the way, it reminds me of when movie theaters had ushers (yes, I remember those!). These ushers with flashlights would lead you to your seats. You followed the light faithfully, knowing that the usher would show you the way.
If you were to graph your life, it would look something like a road map, as well. (go over graph of my life on overhead).
A young boy down south wanted to join a church. So the deacons were examining him. They asked, "How did you get saved?" His answer was, "God did His part, and I did my part." They thought there was something wrong with his doctrine, so they questioned further, "What was God’s part, and what was your part?" His explanation was a good one. He said, "God’s part was the saving, and my part was the sinning. I done run from Him as fast as my sinful heart and rebellious legs could take me. He done took out after me till He run me down."