Each year, the Juniata Valley Ministerium conducts weekly Community Lenten services from Ash Wednesday to Maundy Thursday. Each week, we gather in a different church so that most pastors get to host one service and speak in one service (outside their own church).
Tonight, I spoke at the Water Street Evangelical Church. This year we developed a series focusing on several prominent Old Testament stories. I had the opportunity to talk about Abraham, specifically his call.
I had looked forward to this message for several weeks; it was a fun message to share!
When I start out on a journey, I like to know where I’m headed! Normally, I’ll go to mapquest.com, input my starting and ending points, click submit, and get detailed, turn-by-turn directions to where I’m going.
But I’m not sure what Joleen and I were thinking when we moved to PA! We had been married for a year-and-a-half and had just finished seminary when we loaded up a Ryder truck and headed for North East, PA. We were going there to pastor a church, but we didn’t yet have a place to live! It turned out okay but it was a scary few days. I can’t imagine doing that again; the things you do when you’re young!
We like to know where we’re headed, don’t we? Whether it’s a road trip or in life! But, in life anyway, we don’t always know! Fortunately, we can learn a lot from people in the Bible because they didn’t always know where the journey was taking them, either. One such traveler was Abraham.
Read Genesis 12.1-9. God told Abraham to “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.” And at 75 years old, here’s what Abraham did: he “departed as the Lord had instructed.”
God-followers are mobile followers!
Abraham, up in years, was mobile enough to follow God wherever he led. Fast forward 24 years, Abraham is still waiting. In Genesis 17, God renews his covenant with Abraham, who’s now 99 years old: “I am … God Almighty. Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants” (Genesis 17.1-2).
Abraham is still waiting, but he’s still mobile, he’s still traveling! Fast forward another, I don’t know, 10-15 years. By this time, Isaac has been born, and you’d think Abraham is ready to settle down. But in Genesis 22, Abraham, 110-115 years old, and “God tested Abraham’s faith.” Hasn’t the guy been through enough already? Hasn’t his faith been tested enough, hasn’t his character been developed enough? Apparently not. God tests him once again.
Notice Abraham’s response, though. After God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. The writer of Genesis reports, “The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac.”
What a great response. Abraham was mobile at 75; he’s still a mobile follower 35-40 years later!
How mobile are you?
Got your traveling bag packed? Here are several essentials I think I’d want to include:
- Bible – we need God’s Word
Compass – Jesus is our true north!
Hiking Boots – the terrain isn’t always easy
Climbing Rope – God has a thing for mountains!
Trail Mix and a water bottle – Jesus is the bread of life and the living water – God knows we’d need nourishment!
Dramamine – Jesus liked to take his followers out on the open seas which weren’t always so accommodating!
Mobile phone – appropriately named, to stay in contact with others!
What would it look like if we had faith like Abraham?
A writer in the New Testament writes, “It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents” (Hebrews 11.8-9a).
What would it look like if our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, churches were filled with God-followers who were mobile followers?
I want my legacy, our legacy, to be like Abraham’s legacy: “He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.” (Romans 4.21)
O God, thank you for Abraham. He certainly wasn’t perfect; he did some dumb things along the trip. But he hung in there and endured till the end. And through it all, he was mobile. Whenever you called him to do something or to go somewhere, he packed his traveling bag and went without delay! Help us to be mobile followers, too, God, so that we will always go where you send us, whether it’s around the world or across the room! May we go without delay! Amen.