Summary: In a first person format, Abraham, near death, reflects upon his life.
“Getting Into Shape: When You Don’t Know Where You’re Headed”
Gen. 12:1-9; 15:1-6; 25:1-11
Oh my dear ones – I’m an old man, full of years and richly blessed. The time of my departure may be near. As I lay here I’ve been thinking about my pilgrimage though life, and about our all-powerful, all-loving God. Where would I be without Him? Where would we be without Him? Bear with me as my heart is full with things I want to share with you.
As I reflect upon my pilgrimage, I am amazed at where I am, considering where I was. I am here – we are here – because of God. That thought, that realization is what drove me all along the way. Dear ones, REMEMBER GOD’S CALL. Why did God call me? Because He wanted to - because He chose me. I am what I am and where I am because of God’s mercy. I was from Ur; my people were idol worshippers. I was a simple sheep master. There was nothing in me that deserved or drew the attention of God. Yet He said to me “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” He did not tell me where it was, nor did He tell me what it was like. I had no idea where I was headed. But when God calls, it doesn’t matter where to. It means it’s time to go.
And going involves LEAVING. Everything I had and knew, except for immediate family, had to be left behind. Leaving means separation –a cutting off from what we know best. I needed to break away from everything that had made me who I was. It’s tough to leave the known and familiar. But the more we walk with God the more He separates us to Himself.
In fact, the longer and further you walk with God the more you will be SURRENDERING. I can still hear God speaking to me: "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about." All of God’s promises for my future were bound up in Isaac. All the promises for the future of God’s family were bound up in Isaac. Yet God was asking me to sacrifice Isaac. So I had a dilemma. Would I rely on past promises that Isaac would be my heir, or obey the present command to kill Isaac? How could God keep His word and still let Isaac die? God was asking me to give up the guarantee of my future. But that’s God! God goes for broke as He asks us TO SURRENDER TO HIS WILL AT THE DEEPEST LEVEL OF OUR BEING – even if we do not know where we are headed.
So God was asking me to release what was dearest to me. It turns out, that was the real issue. Isaac was dearest to me. God wanted me to know I needed to be more committed to the giver than the gift. I needed to remember that God had told me “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, and your very great reward.” As dear as you are Isaac, my greatest treasure is God who gave you to me. Until I could release you back to God, I could walk no further. God’s call necessarily involves leaving and surrendering - releasing whatever is preventing God from being our dearest treasure.
That’s why it’s important, all along the way, to be BUILDING – to be building altars to our God. Wherever He meets with you, whenever you renew your vows to Him, whenever you seek Him, build an altar. Draw near to Him. Worship Him. The altars serve as touch points in remembering who’s in charge and who’s leading the way. Remembrance of God is what will keep you from turning back and empowers you to keep going. Remember God’s call, especially when you do not know where you are headed.
That brings me to another thought; FOLLOW GOD’S INSTRUCTIONS. There are often months or even years between God’s instructions and revelation of the next steps, and between God’s promises and any fulfillment. Wait – do not run ahead of God. You know I did that too often. It never worked. I tried to hurry birthing an heir through Hagar; I lied to Pharaoh about who Sarah was; I went into Egypt in fear of the famine in Canaan. None of these self-driven efforts worked. God had to step in and correct me and save the situations – every time. Yes – God is merciful and kept restoring me; but I hate to think of how much time and effort I wasted, and all the blessings I missed, trying to fulfill God’s calls and commands in my way – because I felt I couldn’t wait. Wait – do not run ahead of God.