Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. Genesis 12:1
Abram did an amazing thing, leaving his culture, his support network, everything that he was familiar with all for the sake of the call of God. That’s the short version. Let’s take a few moments and look at Abram’s journey a little more closely.
Notice that Genesis 12:1 begins with “the LORD had said.” Had said. God had already told Abram and it wasn’t done yet. You see, chapter 11 ends with:
And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there. Genesis 11:31
Haran, Not Canaan
If you look at a map, Haran is about halfway between Ur and Canaan. Haran was an important crossroads on the ancient trade routes, and so it was a nice, comfortable, logical place to stop. Except God didn’t say to stop in Haran. Furthermore, God had said for Abram to leave his family, not let his father lead the expedition.
How many times have we stopped at Haran rather than Canaan? Have we ever stopped short of where God wanted us, where God called us, because it was a little more comfortable, a little easier, and little less intimidating? Have we ever been content to let someone else do the work or the ministry when we knew deep down that it was ours?
Abram’s story doesn’t stop in Haran. God renews His call to Abram after his father’s death and Abram resumes his journey.
“Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, … Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the LORD…” Genesis 12:6-7
“Abram! Stop! This is exactly where I want you.” As soon as Abram gets to Shechem, God appears and assures him this is the place. Abram, undoubtedly moved by a deep sense of thanksgiving, of wonder, of devotion, worships God.
When have that confident reassurance from God that we are where He has called us, we worship. Then our worship drives us to deeper obedience which results in more worship. It’s a good cycle to be in.
Abram didn’t stay there, though.
Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land. Genesis 12:10
There is no mention in Scripture that God told Abram to go to Egypt, so we are left to assume it was his idea. If you continue to read chapter 12, you’ll see that Abram got into trouble during his stay in Egypt.
Even from the very center of God’s will for us, heady with blessings, we often decide we know what’s best. God’s timing seems especially slow. We began to rely on our own judgment, on our own assessments and our own plans. We get caught up in numbers, in metrics and optics and pour our energy into making things bigger, and taking things farther, sometimes over things God never asked us to do in the first place.
There is no mention of any worship going on while Abram was in Egypt. Likewise, we find it hard to worship God when we take it on ourselves to do all the work, and bear all the burdens or when we make ourselves responsible for the outcomes.
Egypt was draining, frustrating, unsatisfying and even dangerous. It’s not much better for us when we strike out on our own. The great thing about God in His great grace is that we can’t void His promises or His call, and He won’t void them. Abram returned to Canaan. And so can we.
Back to Canaan
And he went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the LORD. Genesis 13:1-2
We can always go back. We can always renew, rediscover, and rekindle what we once had, both in our passion for our calling and for the God who counted us worthy of it.
Consider where you are on your journey. Haran? Canaan? Egypt? Or back in Canaan?
Do you need to move? Which direction?
What’s holding you back or what spurs you on?