Recently, I’ve been fascinated by the example of Abraham. We all know that Abraham left the land of his birth, Ur, to go to a place (as the Lord said) “that I will show you.” That is, he knew nothing about this new land. As I have recently discovered, however, he knew quite a bit about the land he was leaving.
By the way, what kind of name is Ur, anyway? I can just imagine the scene:
STRANGER: Great place you have here, Abe. What do you call it?
STRANGER: I like it!
But I digress. I heard an excellent teacher the other day describe how clay tablets have been found that identify ancient towns and districts, named after the family of Abraham: Haran, Terah, Nahor, and Serug. Now, this can serve as confirmation of the historical accuracy of the Old Testament narrative, but I’m more interested in the idea that when Abraham was called to go to the unknown land, he was leaving something behind. And it wasn’t just anything. If your family or tribe is so powerful that people are naming cities and districts after you, then you have a lot of clout in your hometown. Abraham had a great deal going for him in the land of Ur. I can’t imagine it was easy for him to just pull up and move.
You know, it was Terah’s idea to go to Canaan in the first place, but for some reason he stopped at Haran. Abraham was simply traveling along with his father, but what to do now that his dad stopped? Think about it: Terah had the vision, he was the founder, perhaps God had been speaking to him as he ended up speaking with Abraham. And here you are, Abraham, following your father who was following God, and he pulls up short! Do you stay with dad?
But no, Abraham heads out on his own, envisioned by his own message from God. This started a pattern of God calling people out of the “good” to be a part of the “great”, and this pattern has been repeated a number of times. Here are some more examples:
Moses was being raised in Pharaoh’s house. That must have been pretty nice. Perhaps, as the adopted grandson of the Pharaoh, he was being groomed for the throne. Even if not, he still had a tremendous education, unfathomable wealth, and great influence. And he clearly felt called by God to be the deliverer of his people (Acts 7:25) — even though he started about it the wrong way. God was calling him out of what could arguably be described as the best position in the known world to head a rebellion against that world’s most powerful nation.
Let’s move on to Paul. He describes himself (Phil. 3:5-6) as a Hebrew of Hebrews, blameless under the very rigorous Jewish law. He was the hatchet man for the powerful Pharisees, running a successful campaign to stamp out these followers of Jesus. God pulled him out of what could only be described as a very successful career, to become, quite literally, the scum of the earth (1 Cor 4:13).
Lastly, Philip was called out of a great revival to walk down an isolated desert road. Think about it! It’s revival! Great crowds were hanging on his every word. Dramatic healings and deliverances. To say there was “much joy” in the city (Acts 8.8) was an understatement.
And right out of the middle of all this, God calls him to take a walk down a desert road. Of course, we know that he was to encounter the Ethiopian eunuch, but Philip didn’t know that. All he knew was that he was being called away from where GOD WAS MOVING.
So the point? Well, I guess I’m feeling that same urging. I feel like leaving the “good” because the “great” may be just around the corner. For me, the “good” is a high-paying job, stability, a known future, participating in my local church, supporting various causes — you know, the Christian-American Dream. The great is…that’s just it; I don’t know. However, as I’ll explain in Part 2, I do know that I should be expecting the unexpected.