There are two periods in my life when it feels I began to come of age. One was when I bought a First Edition copy of a book about John and Abigail Adams. We were in St. Petersburg, Florida. I sat in the warm evening reading and feeling as if I had entered a new world. The second launch was when I began to read and write about Abraham, the Old Testament patriarch and Father of faith.
“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1).
Gordon MacDonald, in his Mid-Course Correction (Thomas Nelson, ©2000), explains how crazy this call is and how large the faith step for Abram was.
“In the world of Abram’s birth, nothing purposely changes.”
“If nothing changes, then there is no such thing as hope, no such thing as personal growth, no such thing as the expectation that tomorrow might offer more than today.” (page 63)
“…somewhere along the way, Abram heard a Voice (a sound from heaven that went to his soul and thrived there) saying, ‘Leave!’”
“In Abram’s world, no one ever left! No one thought of leaving. No one dared to leave.” (page 65) “The command to leave spoken by the Voice had to break the power of a thousand cultural stays.”
It is Abraham the traveler that captures my imagination. Gordon MacDonald’s writing has stirred my faith and beaten back the encroaching desert.
The man who first used the word “Millennials” has studied and written much about generations. He uses an interesting phrase to describe one element about Millennials: “Risk aversion.”
Risk aversion. Let that phrase wander around your mind.
Last week a 14-story high Ferris wheel type ride shut down mid-ride because the computer detected a problem leaving riders stranded for three hours.
“Hey, Dean, want to ride?”
“No, thank you.”
God says to Abram, “You pack, say goodbye to everyone and everything you know and get moving. I will show you the place I’m sending you.”
“Can’t tell you. This is a ‘on a need to know basis.’”
“Voice! Whatever your name is, I need to know. NOW!”
“All you need now is to leave.”
Leaving is more difficult for some than others.
We sold, gave away, stored everything we owned. If it didn’t fit on the bus or serve a practical purpose—gone. We were off to be full time Gospel Singers, evangelists and seminar leaders. The Benton Von Troupe. Doug was in the fourth or fifth grade. As we were plotting the first tour he asked, “What are we going to do on a night off? Just drive around?” A little more information would have been helpful for him. To have had a little more information would have been better for me.
If God had shown Abram a map, he couldn’t have understood. He knew the road to Haran, but as far as he knew, the edge of the world was located on the edge of the city limits.
“I will show you.”
“Should I pack my swim suit?”
Remember, The Voice did not speak to Sarai, Lot, Eliazar or Abram’s dad. Abram had no one to whom he could say, “Hey, can I run something past you? I’m not sure if I’m hearing this right. Based on what you’ve heard, what do you think?” I don’t know that Abram talked to anyone about The Voice or why he was packing and scheduling a farm auction.
In the early days of studying Abram, we had “left” and were nomads. One phrase from the Abraham epoch dominated my thinking: “Abram traveled in stages.” He would travel toward that place that was not on any of his maps, then God would show up to speak and Abram would build an altar not to just commemorate the encounter, but to establish a refreshing place for the days or years when the Voice was silent.
If I can make it to the next altar.
Mandatory for the walk of faith—The Voice and altars: Build one or visit one today. Remember when God was close, spoke special words and what He called you to seemed so crazy, but with His presence–do-able!
©2015 D. Dean Benton—http://www.bentonministries.com/
Writer, Wonderer, Meanderer