One of the stories that’s most meaningful for me right now is Abraham. Here are 5 lessons about Abraham’s story in Genesis that are feeding my spirit:
1. Even though he was 75 years old, God had big plans for Abram.
We don’t meet Abram until he’s 75 years old, when God calls him to a new place in Genesis 12. In verse 1, God says: Go, to the land I will show you. Two things about that inspire me. One is the commandment to leave what is familiar. (This is hard enough at age 21, when we moved from TX to PA. It’s even harder at 40.) The second is that God says, to the land I “will” show you. In other words, Abram didn’t see the destination when he left the old place, which makes the leaving all that more remarkable. When I decided to pull down my shingle on daily life running my company, Midnight Oil, I learned a bit about Abram’s point of view, and about faith.
2. God didn’t show Abram a plan; instead, God gave Abram a beautiful vision.
God’s vision was for a family that would fill the earth. We look for step by step instructions. But executing a plan doesn’t require faith and an ongoing relationship. When God asks us to make a difficult change, God gives us a vision of where we are going. It is our job to keep that image in front of us as we traverse the journey. This is what creates relationship.
3. At some point, Abram lost faith and made bad decisions.
Abrams got sidetracked. There was a famine in Egypt, and he got stuck for a while. Circumstances happen, but it is our response that matters. Abram acted out of his fear. He lost his way and abdicated leadership of his life (and his wife) to Pharaoh. If we stop leaning on God, we will be consumed by fear and make horrible decisions.
4. God sent Abram to unfamiliar, even hostile, territory–a land full of Canaanites.
God’s call is not always to the known or the comfortable.
5. Later, God has to tell Abram to not be afraid again, because he was scared again.
We don’t just learn things once. We have to learn them over and over. In Genesis 15, even after the initial journey was over, he still experienced fear. Kierkagaard said, “Mankind is either anxious, or bored.” Abram learned to live with fear, but he didn’t let the fear stop him. I am coming to recognize the difference between an antonym-of-love fear and a holy fear. Being a part of what God is doing may bring fear, like butterflies before a big event. Our job is to learn to recognize and smile at the good kind of fear.
And an extra thought: The testing never ends.
24 years later after this journey, God tested Abraham (chapter 22). After all this blessing, another test. This one about Isaac. After Abraham hears God’s command to sacrifice Isaac, it says in verse 3, early the next morning, he saddled his donkey. So, again not knowing the outcome, he got up and got on his ride anyway, trusting God would show him as he went.
What have you learned on your current journey?