Summary: When God asked Abraham to become His follower He was asking him to make a great sacrifice. Abraham was going to have to forfeit the inheritance that was his. He was going to have to leave his people and go to an unfamiliar place (Genesis 12:2-3).
Howard Hendricks relates how the mentoring of one of his teachers’ impacted his life. “By the fifth grade, I was bearing all the fruit of a kid who feels insecure, unloved, and pretty angry at life. In other words, I was tearing the place apart. However, my teacher Miss Simon apparently thought that I was blind to this problem, because she regularly reminded me, ‘Howard, you are the worst behaved child in this school!’
So tell me something I don’t already know! I thought to myself, as I proceeded to live up (or down) to her opinion of me . . . You can imagine what my expectations were upon entering the sixth grade. The first day of class, my teacher, Miss Noe, went down the roll call, and it wasn’t long before she came to my name. ‘Howard Hendricks,’ she called out, glancing from her list to where I was sitting with my arms folded, just waiting to go into action. She looked me over for a moment, and then said, ‘I’ve heard a lot about you.’ Then she smiled and added, ‘But I don’t believe a word of it!’
I tell you, that moment was a fundamental turning point, not only in my education, but in my life. Suddenly, unexpectedly, someone believed in me. For the first time in my life, someone saw potential in me. Miss Noe put me on special assignments. She gave me little jobs to do. She invited me to come in after school to work on my reading and arithmetic. She challenged me with higher standards.
I had a hard time letting her down. In fact, one time I got so involved in one of her homework assignments that I stayed up until 1:30 in the morning working on it! Eventually my father came down the hall and said, ‘What’s the matter son? Are you sick?’
‘No, I’m doing my homework,’ I replied.
He kind of blinked and rubbed his eyes, not quite sure whether he was awake. He’d never heard me say anything like that before . . . What made the difference between fifth grade and sixth? The fact that someone was willing to give me a chance. Someone was willing to believe in me while challenging me with higher expectations. That was risky, because there was no guarantee that I would honor Miss Noe’s trust.
Everyone likes the end product of mentoring, especially when it yields a peak performer --- the star athlete, the successful businessperson, the brilliant lawyer, the impressive communicator. But how many of us want to deal with the person at the front end of the process?” (More Stories for the Heart pp46-47)
Like Howard Hendricks’s teacher, God always sees the potential. God sees what we can become not what we are. He sees where we can go not where we can remain.
When God asked Abraham to become His follower He was asking him to make a great sacrifice. Abraham was going to have to forfeit the inheritance that was his. He was going to have to leave his people and go to an unfamiliar place (Genesis 12:2-3).
God had chosen a common man to bring forth His plan of redemption for mankind. Bishop Ryle tells us that there were three significant things that Abraham had to do when he agreed to follow God (Yates 16-17).
It isn’t any different today than it was in Abraham’s time. Great importance is put on “land, family, and inheritance” as the commentators, Walton & Matthews tell us. However today there are not many family farms as there once was. Farming has become big business. Family inheritance does not lie in the land. Political allegiance is not found there as it once was. Children were the future then and they are the future for today. “Children would provide for their parents in old age and enabled the family line to extend another generation.” (35). Children provided for their parents once they became too old to lead the clan. Their wisdom was not discarded as it is today. Parents were shown great respect through burial and honoring of their name. It is out of that respect that we go to the cemetery on Memorial Day to remember those who have gone before us in death.
The custom of Abraham’s people was to see gods as personal. They would become a sort of “divine sponsor”(37). These gods would take a specific interest in a particular family. If the family was pleasing the god then good things would happen. It they weren’t then bad things would happen.
The scripture once again is unclear of the amount of time it took to convince Abraham to do what he was being asked to do. You may ask yourself what does God want me to do? Does he want me to leave my family behind? No. But, God does ask us to leave some things behind.