The Journey: Called, Going Out, and The Promise

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and set out for a place that he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, even though he did not know where he was going.

By faith he stayed as a foreigner in the land of promise, living in tents as did Isaac and Jacob, coheirs of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

By faith even Sarah herself, when she was unable to have children, received power to conceive offspring, even though she was past the age, since she considered that the one who had promised was faithful. Therefore, from one man—in fact, from one as good as dead—came offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky and as innumerable as the grains of sand along the seashore.
-Hebrews 11:8-12

We are all on a journey.

We are all called to go out, on a journey, towards something that we are waiting for.

The text says, "By faith Abraham, when he was called".  Calling is not something for the few, but we are all called.  Put your name in that sentence.  What did you do when you were called?

It says that, "By faith", he did what he did.  What did you do?  He went out.  He left behind.

Is calling something for the few?  Is calling only for the extraordinary person, or are we all called?

If you think calling is for only a certain small percentage of people, then let me ask you a question.  How did you get saved?  Are you going to tell me how you saved yourself or are you going to tell how how God saved you?

If God saved you and God is still saving you, part of your story is how you responded to God.  God did call you and you responded.

This issue of call brings up the question of what did you do.  It brings up personal responsibility.  When you were called, what did you do?

Like Abraham, did God's call to you set into motion a chain of events that forever changed your life?  Was it like, "From this day on, everything changes"?

If you did not leave something, someone, and go out into the unknown, to follow the call of God; I might not believe that you have been called.  Because nobody stays the same after God calls them.

You might think that being called is something for the few, but that is not true.  If you are God's child, he calls you.

People that say they are God's child, but don't have a call story, are probably not really a true follower, because God calls his followers.  You can be a fan, in the crowd, investigating, researching, trying it out, a student even, and following, but not called.  You may be all those things because he is calling you.

And that's the key question, "Is God calling you, and are you answering the call?"  Then, the question is, "What are you doing to answer the call?"

Stepping back, what is the call?  In the Bible, when people are called, they leave things, they leave people, and they are forever changed.

When we are called, we leave and go; and we do it by faith.  That means, we go forward, without seeing where we are going.  That is what Abraham did, and Sarah went with him.

And the call had some specifics.  He was to go to an unknown geographic place and become a nation there.  This couple that did not have children were to become the father and mother of a nation, in a new geographic space, unknown to them.

Between the calling recognized or discerned and promise in the call being fulfilled or taken hold of, is the waiting time.  And the waiting is a journey we go on from call to realization.

And waiting is not passive.  In waiting, we are attentive to the calling becoming manifest in our life.

You can not get from hearing the call to seeing the promise come to pass unless you go on the journey that is between the two.

To hear the call and then stand by the door to the journey, but then never going on that journey, and then to complain that God's call does not work out, is foolishness.  Because the call will not become fulfilled unless we leave and go into the unknown of the journey from calling to fulfillment

Abraham and Sarah were called into the journey and were also waiting for something.  The journey also called them to look for something.

It is perhaps ideal if you hear from God when you are a child and grow up serving him for the rest of your life.  But that is not Abraham's story.  He was called in mid life.  He was 75.  He still had 100 years to go.

With today's average lifespan for men at about 80 years, Abraham would have been about 34 years old when he was called.  He and Sarah did not have kids.  They had probably been married for a while and were living among their family.  Suddenly, God called them, speaking to Abraham, to leave his dad and their hometown and go to a totally different place.

This is how it is documented in Genesis 12:
The Lord said to Abram:

Go out from your land,
your relatives,
and your father’s house
to the land that I will show you.
I will make you into a great nation,
I will bless you,
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt,
and all the peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated, and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan. -Genesis 12:1-4

Has God called you?  Where are you on a journey to? What are you waiting for? And, what are you looking for?

Abraham and Sarah had a lot of unknowns.  They did not know where they were going and they did not know when they would get there.  They also wanted to have a baby and they did not know if they would ever conceive.

As they grew older, they naturally would have given up hope.  But their story is that God intervened.  God promised them that they would conceive.

As far as I know, God only spoke to the Abraham, so Sarah had to trust that her husband had heard it right.

Our singular relationship to God comes first in our lives.  What is God showing me to do?  In a relationship there are two people who both want to obey and follow God.  Me and I becomes we and us.

We have to ask, what is God showing us to do?  What if you don't see what God has shown me?  Will you trust me or do we have to wait for God to show you?

A husband gets a revelation, a calling, he says from God, to go, to leave, to uproot.  Maybe it is the other way, and the wife gets the call.

What if one spouse gets the calling and the other spouse is comfortable where they are?

Every couple has to work this out.

But what if God calls you?

We are all on a journey where God calls us out of something or somewhere and into something else that is largely or completely unknown.  This calling may be completely metaphorical or spiritual, and will later take shape in the natural, physical realm of houses, people, vocation, ministry opportunities, and assignments.

When you are called to leave, you may very well be called, like Abraham and Sarah, to leave without knowing, without something, anything lined up.  Your destination is unknown.

The calling is clear on the leaving part and not so clear on the destination part.

As Tolkien wrote, "All those who wander are not lost".

We are all waiting for something and we are all on a journey.  We get to spend our time between now and the time of the waiting to be over.  Spending our time well is what we want to do.

We can waste time and we can not get it back, although God can redeem it.  Wasting time might be one of the worst things we can do.  Leisure and rest were invented by God.  We call it recreation.

Some Christians might think of life as spiritual and sinful.  Spiritual is devotions, Christian media, church, and edifying fellowship.  Sinful is worldliness, addictions, and fleshly things; like the list of attributes juxtaposed and antithetical to the fruit of the Spirit, described in Galatians five.

But what about life in Christ?  Did Jesus see life and live life in that bifocal way?

A wise man said, "begin with the end in mind".  What is the end of your life?  What and who do you want to be at the end and where do you want to go and to whom?

When you settle those questions and perhaps refine them before God, you can set up goals for your life.

If you read all on Hebrews 11, there is a shocking line in there, that says that many people never receive the promise they were striving towards, here in their lives.  And it says that we ought to be inspired by them and live the way they did, as sojourners or strangers here.
These all died in faith, although they had not received the things that were promised. But they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth.  -Hebrews 11:13-14
Abraham was in the middle of his life when he was called to uproot and change everything, by following God into the unknown.  And he was five years older than his dad was when he was born.  I can imagine he was already getting concerned about his progeny.

Sarah found out that God was calling her to be a mother, not a step-mom or an aunt; but a mother who would conceive and give birth and raise a son.  

Life is made up of waiting and being on a journey.  We receive promises from God and then the promise works something in us, while we wait and walk forward in life.

This is the life many of us are living.

What are the questions that drive you?

Have you begun to understand your life in retrospect?



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The artwork is Rembrandt, "Abraham Caressing Isaac"


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