A Cycle – 2nd Sunday of Lent 20
Gn. 12: 1- 4 A
If you read the account of the call of Abraham by God you have to question why an old man, beyond retirement age, who did not even know God’s name would respond to the invitation to leave everything to venture out into the unknown. It was an invitation that came out of nowhere and most of us would hesitate to obey such an invitation. Especially since Abraham was settled and was well beyond retirement age. All his family lived where he lived. He was comfortable and lacked for nothing but children. Yet the invitation obviously touched his deepest need – “he will become the father of a great nation.”
God has promised each of us eternal life, forgiveness of sin, peace, joy and strength to follow his will. Those are only the beginning promises he has made us for beyond those things God has promised us new hearts, wisdom, understanding and faith to be as obedient as Abraham. The only question for us is how much we believe in God’s promises and how much do we trust God will do his part if we step out in faith.
In the story of Abraham’s call, we see he never questions God about anything related to the invitation to go to a land God will show him. He never asks which direction is this land, what is the land called, how long is the journey, what about the uncivilized people I will encounter on the way and if God will protect me from them. These would be normal questions for anyone given an invitation. But God is not everyone, He is the one person who knows exactly what we need and is willing to tell us how to obtain it. The amazing thing is God desires to give us the very thing we need most for us to follow him. “If my people who are called by my name would humble themselves and pray and seek my face then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land” (2 Ch. 7:14).
Without a question, Abraham just picks up all his belongings and begins to walk. Talk about “walking in “faith and not by sight.” This is a perfect example of trusting in a God who Abraham could not even identify by name. It begs us to look inward and question our own trust in God’s promises to us. How much do we trust God hears us when we pray? Experience tells me, we are not clear that God hears or if He hears does, he cares about what we are going through. Did God really mean it when he said if we believe we will have eternal life. It must take more than a belief. There must be some action on our part that at a minimum shows we are doing our part to connect with God.
What was Abraham doing that day God spoke to him about leaving every comfort of old age to go to someplace unspecified but to be revealed in the future? He was not in church, he was not praying, at least the passages of scripture show us nothing about where he was or what he was doing. I believe that omission was because he was doing nothing out of his ordinary routine. I believe Abraham was reflecting on the fact he felt he has missed something in his lifetime. Children were viewed as a blessing by God and he had somehow felt he had displeased God and that his not having children was because he failed to please God.
God in this story is telling us how relentless He is in trying to speak to our hearts showing us the way to fulfill our destiny and live the live prepared for each of us from the moment we were conceived (Eph. 2:10).
Here is the key, Abraham did not know God before this call. He was a faithful Jew who followed the laws and rituals, but he was not more than that. He was nearing the end of life and he was not feeling blessed by the God he believed in but God’s desire for him was not known. All Moses knew about God was an intellectual knowledge and that knowledge did not prepare his heart to know the depth of God’s desire for him. This is the amazing thing about Abraham’s response, and it should give us all courage. We do not have to be super holy to be spoken to by God. We do not have to be performing some highly specific religious retreat or program to have God speak to us. We only must be trying to listen to God without expecting God to respond.
Yet, when God does break through to us and when He does it changes everything, and you will find a willingness to trust His promises. If we take that first step to seeking God to speak to us, we will become sensitive to the presence of God and His desire to give us all good things. Once we begin to trust, we will seek to discover the heart of God and God will continue to reveal more and more of Himself to us and more and more blessings will follow to us.
What we must avoid is doing what Peter does today in the gospel as he witnesses the transfiguration of Jesus. He misinterprets the message and wants to enjoy the presence of Jesus, Moses, Elijah. God comes to us to change us and to prepare us to do more than stay in that changed state. He changes us to go forth and trust God is with us in the nitty gritty day to day living as we give witness to the God who desires us to know He is always with us. Not on the mountain top but in the world as we go forth to make God’s name known.