I find it incredible that God’s first words to Abram (who would later be re-named Abraham) are, “Leave your land, your family, and your father’s household…” (Genesis 12:1) Being that Abraham became one of the central figures of Judaeo-Christianity, a father and pioneer of the tradition we now call our own, perhaps we would expect to read of a “smoother” first encounter between him and God, one that would be more indicative of a happy ending.
And as the story of the Hebrew people unfolds, we learn that God’s words to Abraham are also reflective of a much larger reality: the reality of constant movement. If someone asked me to define my understanding of Israel’s history in one single word, I’d probably choose something to the effect of ‘exile’, or ‘struggle’, or perhaps ‘suffering’, all of which are directly related to their inability to stay in any one place for more than a short period of time.
Amazingly, however, there is also a promise wrapped up in that reality of constant movement, an undying promise that can only be found in the midst of — and not apart from — the incomprehensible fatigue and confusion that naturally result from the crooked lines of our fate. The promise that God offers Abraham — that Abraham’s tribe will become a blessing to everyone else (Genesis 12:2) — is diffused in the depths of a very uncertain path. Almost like a pleasant fragrance of Brazilian cheese rolls that we can only smell but not quite get to (I mean… how torturous, right?).
But in all seriousness, our beloved faith community at Highlands Church North Denver is currently in that intersection — once again, witnessing the paradoxical reality that became so characteristic of God’s people. We need to pick up and move, once again, so that we can continue to get closer to the Brazilian cheese bread we’ve been smelling (or, continue to step further into our calling to become a tribe that blesses all others). And as the youth director, I’m sitting right in the middle of that intersection, because I know our kids and youth need better, more appropriate spaces. I also know that change is difficult, and it will likely always be.
The best part of it all, though? We get to do this together. You and I, we’ll sit in this together, making space for whatever we’re each feeling during this transition, and getting ready to follow God’s voice, yet again, into the unknown wilderness of what comes next.