Abram lived in one of the oldest cities on earth, the city of Ur. It was in this idolatrous place that God called Abram. The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you” (Gen 12:1). The call of God was commanding: Leave your country -leave your people – and leave your father’s household. That could not have been an easy decision, but Abram was obedient. Even more astounding is Abram’s obedience when we think of the lack of clarity that God gave Abram. He told him to go to a land that he would show him.
Abram began the 800-mile journey traveling through what is today Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, most likely following the Euphrates River. He stopped in Haran and lived there several years, and after his father died, he continued his journey to Canaan. Even in Haran, Abram was actively sharing his faith because many people joined Abram in his mission: “He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there” (Gen 12:5). God did not spell out everything for Abram. He only gave him what he needed to know at that moment. Abram acted in complete trust and obedience.
When Jesus calls us, he does not guarantee the future to be all perfect and lovely. To the contrary, he tells us we will have trouble like everyone else. Jesus does not promise that if we are his followers, all our problems will be solved. He tells us to count the cost before throwing in with him. Christ does promise to be with us. He does promise to be with us in thick and thin, or tick and tin as they say in the Caribbean.
It is noteworthy that God promised, “I will make your name great” (Gen 12:2). Ironically, this is what the builders of the tower of Babel wanted and sought for but had failed to obtain. When we try to serve God and honor him, God gives us honor. When we seek our recognition and fame, we fail to acquire it.
Abram was a man who put his faith in God and not in things, though God gave him riches. The writer of Hebrews includes Abraham in the Hall of Faith Chapter, “By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb 11:9-10).
Abram was detached from the world, just as genuine faith will always detach God’s people from grounding their lives too deeply in the present. We all feel the desire for permanence and security in this life, but like Abraham, we must learn to know that desire will only be fulfilled in heaven.
The Apostle Paul says the same thing to the Colossians:
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col 3:1-4).