Abraham’s journey changed the world. Where will your journey take you? By the Rev. Brad Mullis
Whether we realize it or not, we owe a lot to Abraham. Remember him from way back in Genesis? Probably without even knowing it, he changed the way the world thought and believed. Because of him and the decision of faith that he made, Abraham forever altered the way we live in the world, even in the twenty-first century.
Just after 2000 B.C., while Abram (his given name) was in Haran, a voice spoke to him, telling him to go from his safe, more than comfortable existence, — to leave his kindred and his father’s house – so that God may build through him a great nation out of which all the world will be blessed. There was no precedent for a call like this in Abram’s day. Even though it occurs in the midst of the ordinary, it is clear that the Voice summons Abram on a journey of no return. A journey –with no GPS, mind you – to the land that I will show you, says God. This God says go, and I will make of you and Sarah, a childless couple, a great nation.
Thomas Cahill says that two of the holiest words in all literature are simply: “Abram went.” Those two words tell us that Abram departed from all previous belief, and that instead he would live by trust. He broke free of the determinism which had been his world view. He would live by grace, not magic. He believed that his life had a purpose, that it had meaning, that he was more than a rat trapped on a wheel. There awaited something new, something better, something blessed in the future that could be reached through faithfulness to the Holy One.
When “Abram went,” two things came into being which give our lives meaning, two things without which meaninglessness and despair overwhelm us. Vocation and hope.
What is your vocation? That’s your call, you know. It may or may not be what provides a paycheck, but it’s what God is calling you to. Have you answered God’s call to you? Have you embarked on the journey as Abram did?
Abram went. Sarai went. Moses, David, Jeremiah, Ruth, Mary, Jesus all went. Peter and Paul went. The twelve went. The newly baptized went. Ever since the time of Abram, the “Wheel of Destiny” has been replaced by the people of God on the “Journey of Trust.” We are by our call and by our baptism the people of faith.
And in our going, we, like Abram, make the most powerful statement we can make to the world. We believe. And we go. Our footsteps say that the future is in the hands of the God of grace, who infuses each life with meaning and purpose. God leads us, sustains us, sometimes carries us, even when all outward evidence points to the contrary. This God is faithful, and God’s faithfulness permits us to live in hope.
We are all on a holy journey. Some are taking it more self-consciously than others perhaps, but I hope that we can appreciate what Abraham did. We need to reclaim our lives as sacred journeys and strive to nurture the faith God has given us. We grow as we worship, as we step out in faithful service, even if it’s frightening, and in challenging ourselves through Christian Formation opportunities.
Living in faith and hope is as difficult now as it was for Abraham. Listen to the evening news. Watch television. Read current novels, plays, and histories. Read the faces around you. Madness and hopelessness seem like the logical responses, especially around this crazy political season. I’ll let Frederick Buechner, who always says things so beautifully, finish:
But every once in a while in the world, and every once in a while in ourselves, there is something else to read—there are places and times, inner ones and outer ones, where something like peace happens, love happens, light happens…. They are glimpses and whispers from afar: that peace, light, love are where life ultimately comes from, that deeper down than madness and lostness they are what at its heart life is. By faith we know this, and I think only by faith, because there is no other way to know it.
By faith we understand, if we are to understand it at all, that the madness and lostness we see all around us and within us are not the last truth about the world but only the next to the last truth….Faith is the eye of the heart, and by faith we see deep down beneath the face of things—by faith we struggle against all odds to be able to see—that the world is God’s creation even so. It is he who made us and not we ourselves, made us out of his peace to live in peace, out of his light to dwell in light, out of his love to be above all things loved and loving. That is the last truth about the world. (Buechner, A Room Called Remember, 20-22)