The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him…Genesis 12:1-5
Every year, the night before we left on vacation, we got the pep talk from Dad. “Ok guys, I want everyone up early so we can get on the road by 6:30 and beat the traffic!”
Mom would make her magic mixture of Grape HiC and Lemonade in a big jug that sat at her feet in the front passenger seat. She’d pack Bugles for snacking and peanut butter and egg salad sandwiches for lunch at a roadside rest stop. (Don’t mock. Our family had our things, your family has yours).
But no matter how organized we were, or how adamant Dad was, it was always hard to actually LEAVE. Someone would forget a crucial stuffed animal, or have to go to the bathroom at the last minute, but it was nothing compared to what I imagine Abraham experienced. He was leaving everything he knew. Everything that was comfortable. For some mystery destination. (What if it turned out to be MINOT?) And did you see that he was 75 years old???!
“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8-9)
How hard is leaving for any of us?
First, Abraham comes from a culture of idolatry. His road trip means he needs to leave his idols behind and Ur is a hard place to leave. It’s a great place. Think wealth, education, arts…the New York City of its day maybe.
Second, the details of God’s “Go plan” are fuzzy and as they unfold they seem uncomfortable and, frankly, ludicrous. Like God is saying “Go, and trust the GPS (God Positioning System) even though you don’t know the end destination.
Abraham needed to leave, just like we need to leave from any place (literal or figurative) that gets in the way of the with-God life.
Maybe God’s calling you to leave a job, a relationship, a resentment you’re holding onto, an addiction, a fear…
Leaving always involves letting go of something comfortable. And the familiar is comfortable even if it isn’t the best for us.
There are many others in the Bible who were asked to go. The Rich Young Ruler was incapable of leaving, but Zacchaeus took the leap.
So I ask myself, “What are the comfort idols that keep me from leaving what or where God wants me to leave?”
Abraham does this super imperfectly. He questions and he has so little faith that he pretends Sarah is his sister when he’s afraid, and he tries to “help” God out with the whole “great nation” legacy by impregnating her maid. Not exactly the profile of what we think of when we think “godly man”.
It was a hard LEAVE, but some things we can learn about LEAVING from Abraham:*
- The hero of this story isn’t Abraham. It’s God. We aren’t the hero in our story either. We’re just supporting characters and we need to remember that.
- “Road trips are often more about where my insides are going than where my outsides are going.” John Ortberg
- God never takes us from without taking us to. I may be so obsessed with mourning my “from”, that I miss the blessings of “to”. When we moved to D.C. a counselor told me it was like I was a trapeze artist swinging from one bar to another. You can’t hold on to two trapezes at the same time. You have to let go of one and grab the next.
Caveat: We’re not always called to GO. Sometimes the best decision you can make is to go when it would be easier to stay. But sometimes the best decision you can make is to stay when it would be easier to go.
“Even though Abraham made a lot of mistakes along the way, he got the main thing right: he didn’t go back to Ur. He went where God told him to go…
God begins the redemption project with a call to imperfect Abraham. And then there’s Isaac, and then Jacob, and eventually fishermen and tax collectors and lepers and prostitutes.
It all began with the opportunity in front of Abraham: ‘Go, and all the peoples of the earth will be blessed.’ And it continued right through to Jesus: ‘Go and make disciples of all the peoples of the earth…” Ortberg
- In what area of my life is God prompting me to Go? To pack up, leave something behind? It may not be a physical place I need to leave like a job or a home, but leave my comfort zone, or an attitude like bitterness, envy, resentment, or a relationship that is toxic . Maybe there’s not a current example, but a time in your past that you can think of.
- What are the idols that I’m clinging to that keep me from “leaving”?
- How many times do you see a form of the word “blessing” in Genesis 12 above? Abraham faced famine (Gen. 12:10), infertility, family conflict (Gen. 16), destruction (Gen. 18, 19), and supreme testing (Gen. 22). In what way do you think he was blessed?
I‘d love it if you’d post pictures of your road trips on Instagram (and tag me at lauracrosby so I’ll see it) or on my Facebook page with the hashtag #roadtrip and what you’re learning with a link to the blog. Or just post your experience or response to any of the questions in the comments!
* Many of these insights come from or were prompted by John Ortberg’s new book – All the Places to Go. I highly recommend it!