“Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1)
In my previous post I shared how the process of our journey with God is often as important (if not more) than the destination that we are headed to. It is vital for us to be attentive to each step that the Lord leads us on along the way.
In this post I want to unpack a little of what it meant for Abram to leave something important behind.
Lose to Gain
Abram was asked to leave his country, his extended family (kindred) and his father’s house (Genesis 12:1). In doing so he was leaving behind the land that gave him his provision, the community that gave him his protection and the family that gave him his identity. This was an incredibly brave decision for Abram. His journey away from Haran took him out of the fertile plains of the Euphrates and Tigres Rivers towards the mountainous regions of Syria and Canaan. These were areas that had no significant urban centers and required Abram to navigate and build new relationships along the way. He would be unknown, unprotected and would have to carry his own provision with him.
But on this journey of faith with God, the Lord does an amazing thing with Abram. As his journey unfolds, God Himself becomes the new source of Abram’s identity, protection and provision. We see the Lord protecting Abram from Pharaoh (Genesis 12), from the Kings who captured his nephew Lot (Genesis 14) and from the city of Sodom (Genesis 19). The Lord also brings great provision to Abram, despite a famine in the land and marauding local rulers.
In Genesis 15, God confirms this promise to Abram when He says, “Fear not Abram, I am your shield (i.e. protection); your reward shall be very great (i.e. provision).” Then in Genesis 17, God confirms his covenant with Abram by giving him a new name: Abra-ha-m which means ‘father of a multitude’ (i.e. identity). For Abram to now be called Abraham was more than a little ironic, it was an identity shift, since Abram was then 99 years old and his wife Sarai was barren.
Trust is a Journey
It is through demonstrating his trust in God that the Lord makes good on His commitment (or covenant) to Abram. And this covenant is a foreshadowing of what it means for us to follow Jesus today. Jesus called his disciples to leave behind what they were doing (catching fish, collecting taxes etc) and to follow him, even if that meant leaving behind family and possessions. The call to follow Jesus is not for the faint-hearted.
Ultimately, through His suffering, death and resurrection Jesus established a new covenant with those who chose to follow him (Luke 22:20), a covenant through which he gives his followers a new identity as sons and daughters of God (2 Corinthians 6:18, 1 John 3:1), His Presence as protection (Matthew 28:20, John 14:15-18), and a promise of provision (Matt 6:31-33, Mark 10:29). (Also see my post on covenant).
When my wife and I left England in 2010, we left behind our provision (we left jobs), our protection (our extended family and support network) and our identities associated with the roles we played in our church and workplaces. We had to trust God for all of these things. Time and again, despite our anxieties or moments of doubt, God has come through as our provider, our protector and our Father reminding us of our identity in Him that is never dependent on our circumstances.
Questions for Reflection:
Where do you find your source of identity, protection and provision?
If God called you to leave behind your country, your kindred, and your Father’s house, how difficult would it be for you to trust Him and follow Him?