In Genesis 12:1-9 we read the story of Abram. It starts like this:
Now the Lord said to Abram,
“Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you…” (v. 1, NASB)
And then, (v. 4):
“So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken…”
Abram was 75 years old when he and Sarai, his wife, packed up all of their “possessions they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired” and they set out.
They began, not knowing where they were going or how long it would take.
They believed the promise of God, that God would lead them and bless them.
But they didn’t know where they were going.
In Matthew 4:19, Jesus calls out to some fishermen,
“Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
They didn’t hesitate, according to the narrative. They didn’t stop and ask, “What does that mean?” It says in v. 20,
“At once they left their nets and followed him.”
Abram did not know where God was leading him, but He trusted the God who called him to go.
The fishermen could not have known what it would mean to be “fishers of men”, but there was something about the one who called them that compelled them to follow.
Next week is Thanksgiving in the U.S. For the past several years we have gathered and celebrated together. To those of you who have gathered with me for this – usually loud, wild, wonderful day – I say, thank you. It is one of the beautiful ways that you love me, by celebrating Thanksgiving with me.
November is the month that I arrived in Ireland, in 2001. Next week I will also remember (celebrate) that I have been in Ireland nineteen years.
I have learned that when God sends us out (Me, Abram, the Fishermen…) what happens next rarely looks exactly like we expect it would.
In 1987 I made a note in my Bible. It says, “Guatemala, August 1987”. The passage beside it is Isaiah 42:16,
“I will lead the blind by ways they do not know.
Along unfamiliar paths I will guide them.
I will turn darkness into light before them,
And make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do.
I will not forsake them.”
And that is my testimony.
In 1 Samuel, we are told that Samuel took a stone and set it up in a place where Israel was victorious over the Philistines. He named the stone “Ebenezer” which means “the stone of help.”
Samuel said, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” Knowing that life is full of wonderful and terrible things, I can testify that ‘Thus far the Lord has helped me.’ I am thankful, and this I want to remember – The Lord has helped me thus far, and I’ve no cause to expect that will change.”
We want to be certain about our days. We want to have some control over the hours. We want to know that things will get better. We want to make plans.
We are asked to set out. We are not given a destination.
And that’s okay because that really isn’t critical information. The most important thing to know is that the One who calls you is faithful. God turns darkness into light, makes the rough places smooth, and leads the blind on paths they do not know. God says, “I will not forsake you.”
“The one who calls you is faithful.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24) That is the critical information…
Inhale: Thus far the Lord has helped me.
Exhale: The Lord will not forsake me.
That’s what I would have said…