Summary: When God says, "go", start packing your bags by faith even if you don’t know what is on the horizon. (1st of 3 part series on Abraham)
“Traveling without a map”
INTRODUCTION – talk about expectations that you build up as you anticipate Christmas and maybe even expectations that you have of what is in a particular package. Kid in “A Christmas Story” who wanted a B.B. gun. He got a lot of nice things, but they didn’t satisfy. He was disappointed because his expectations were not met.
We are first introduced to Abraham when he is 75 years old. He is living in Ur where he was born, where he grew up and where he expected to one day die. Everything was moving along well. He was his dad’s firstborn which meant that he would one day inherit dad’s business and properties. In fact, by this time in his life, he was probably handling most of dad’s affairs, allowing dad to supervise and call the really big decisions. Abraham was married without children. As far as we know, the “without children” part of his life was the only negative thing going on with him. But other than that, things couldn’t have been better. One day, God interrupted that comfortable life, and things were never the same from that point on.
“When he was called” “When he was being called”. Maybe Abraham did not immediately respond to God’s call. The first time that God called, Abraham dismissed it as an after-effect of that pizza with anchovies that he had eaten the night before. But then God called again…and again…and again until Abraham finally realized that that feeling of uneasiness and anticipation in his soul was God speaking to him. He hadn’t wanted to admit it at first, but he knew it was God speaking, and he knew what God was saying – leave. Pack your bags, kiss your relatives goodbye, and hit the road. Abraham didn’t want to do that. He didn’t want to leave his life behind. He like his life just the way it was, thank you.
Up to this point, as far as we know, God hadn’t done anything in Abraham’s life to cause him to trust God. No miracles. No answers to prayer. No immediate ancestry of people who followed God. The closest relation that we know of that followed God was Noah’s son Shem, and he was 9 generations back in Abraham’s ancestry. Abraham was raised as a pagan in a pagan society (Josh. 24:2). It was not easy for him to follow God.
He struggled with God. Faith in God doesn’t always mean that you immediately jump when God says go. But it does mean that in the end, when you’ve given God all the excuses of why you can’t do things His way, you choose to go His way anyway. (Moses gave God lots of excuses of why he couldn’t be the deliverer of Israel, but in the end, he believed God and obeyed God’s call on his life)
For most of us, the reason we don’t do things God’s way is not because of some excuse or even a legitimate reason – it’s because we just don’t want to. The cost is too high, or the risk is too great.
What all would Abraham have had to leave behind in order to follow God? God told him to leave his country, his people and his father’s household. (Gen. 12:1) In the Persian Gulf, not far from where Abraham grew up, there are men and women who have left their country behind in order to defend her. They are the people of the U.S. armed forces. But though they are far from home, they have not left their people or their culture. On Thanksgiving Day, they had turkey and dressing and all the fixings. The people that they are with are people who share common experiences, common likes and a common goal. It is a sacrifice for them to be there, but all that they have left behind is country. The next level of leaving is leaving your people. That’s leaving behind your culture and people who are like you. It would be like one of those soldiers being sent on a secret mission with maybe only a few of his fellow soldiers with him. He’s sent into foreign territory where he may not know the language, where he does not know the customs, and where he may be in danger. And all of these men and women have left family behind, perhaps the hardest of all these separations emotionally.
As we think of our American forces around the world during this holiday season, we must also remember that this is the week of prayer that we set aside every year to pray especially for those Southern Baptist missionaries around the world.
The land that Abraham left behind was fertile. He lived in-between two major rivers – the Tigris and the Euphrates. Depending on how much the flood changed the topography of the world and therefore the position of rivers, Ur may have been very near the Garden of Eden.