Scripture: Genesis 12: 1-4a
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
Thoughts on the Scripture
One of my colleagues is one of the wisest and most discerning individuals I know. Furthermore, she works in the area of helping committees discern people’s gifts for authorized ministries – so she’s pretty much an expert in the field of discernment. One conversation with her and I always come away with a clearer sense of myself, a better idea of possible paths that have integrity and move me forward in whatever direction I need to go. One thing she says about discernment is that it is something we see only in hindsight. While we may catch glimpses of what God is up to while we are in a season of discernment, it is only in retrospect that we see the pattern God has worked in the midst of life’s confusion and mess into a distinct mosaic of beauty and clarity.
Likewise with blessing. When God sends us out, it doesn’t always feel like blessing. Did Abram and Sarai think that God was offering them a blessing by sending them into isolation from their extended family? What kind of blessing is “I will make of you a great nation” if you have to leave your family and head to an unknown land? What sorts of blessings drive us from our homes and all that is familiar?
Here’s a funny thing: I met my colleague a few years before we ended up working together. At the time, she was serving as conference staff and I was trying valiantly to present myself as a stellar candidate for a congregation with whom she worked closely. It didn’t work very well. It is easy to see in hindsight that I was not a good match for the congregation, and that the collegial relationship and friendship we’ve developed in our new position is far better than anything we would have had if I had gone to serve that church. But at the time, it was merely confusing and frustrating.
Questions to Discuss/Spiritual Practice
What feels confusing or frustrating to you right now?
What feels unknown or unsettled today?
As you look back on your life with your family, what do you now see as blessing that looked like something else at the time?
Do you dare to go where God sends you, even if you don’t know where that place is yet?
Take some to ponder these questions with your family. Perhaps go for a walk (or a leisurely drive, if you live where it’s cold!) in a neighborhood where you’ve always dreamed of living. To where is God summoning you today? Is it to stay rooted where you are, to give in to your dreams, or to some other future? Listen to one another. Make space for what is and what may be.
In families with young children, take some time to ask: What shall we do today? And then do it – no matter how silly or crazy it sounds.
God, cultivate in us patient and daring hearts, for we wish to have both the discipline to follow you into the unknown future and the willingness to jump into this future with good cheer. Do not let us be so busy in the discerning and thinking and praying about our future that we forget to move into it with clarity and intention. Most of all, make of us a great people, full of compassion and open to the many possibilities for your realm to come on earth. Amen.