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On the Journey...
Monthly Insight From Pastor Phil Yoder
August 14, 2019
When God called Abram and Sarah to leave Ur of the Chaldees, their homeland and their family, they obeyed. Well, they sort of obeyed, they partially obeyed. But at least they got up and got moving in the right direction. Along with Abram’s father Terah and nephew Lot, they packed up and left without knowing exactly where God was taking them. They stopped in Haran, about half way between Ur and Canaan, and that is where they set up camp and lived until Terah died. Leaving Ur of the Chaldees was no easy thing. It was their home, their family was there, their friends were there, they know the language, they know the culture, they had food, they had water, they had a place to live, they had their idols, but they were religious, they were comfortable, they were becoming wealthy, and they had security there.
But God was beginning a new work on the earth, a work to redeem the world from sin, and God called Abram and Sarah to be a part of that work. God knew that if Abraham and Sarah stayed in Ur of the Chaldees, it would be impossible for them to learn to live by faith, and that would be the central focus of becoming a part of God’s new work. God also knew that if they stayed in Ur, it would not be long until they began to mix the old with the new, they would soon see their old country as the Promised Land, they would soon find a way to use their old idols in practicing their new faith. God knew that the old must go so the new could come.
The journey God called Abram and Sarah to embark on was not only a physical journey toward the Promised Land, (that was largely symbolic), it was a journey toward faith, a journey toward God, a journey to be a part of God’s new work in the world. And learning to live a new way, to live by faith and trusting God, was essential in joining the new work of God. God didn’t tell Abram where He was taking them, because God wanted Abram and Sarah to cling to HIM, not to a dream, not to the land, not to visions of a better life, but to God and to God only.
The call to follow God, which Abram received, is similar in so many ways to the call to follow Jesus. It is a call to separate ourselves from our securities, from our old life, from the things that tie us to this world, and cling to Jesus and only to Jesus, to the one who calls us. Jesus frequently leads us in ways and to places we would never have imagined, and certainly would never had chosen on our own. And just as Abraham and Sarah had had only the call and a few promises when they began their journey, so we who follow Jesus cling to Jesus and the few promises He gives to us. Ours is the call to follow Jesus, to learn to live in a new way, to live by the ways and teachings of Jesus, and to trust Jesus. And that is not possible as long as we cling to the things of this world, continue to live the old ways of this world, and to trust in our earthly securities. Jesus’ first Disciples needed to learn this important lesson, and so do His Disciples today. Our security is not in the promised land or even in the promises of heaven, as great as those are. Our security is in Jesus, the one who calls us to follow him.
Abraham and Sarah’s call to follow God ended up being much more than a call to go to the Promised Land, it was a call to be the pioneers in the new work of God. And our call to follow Jesus is much more than just an invitation to go to heaven when we die, it is a call to be the pioneers in the new creation. God always has more up His sleeve than He is showing. It is only as we walk by faith, and develop eyes of faith that we are able to catch a vision of what God is doing that lies just over the horizon.