This past Sunday we read one of my most favorite passages of scripture. It’s Genesis 12:1-4, and it’s real short. Here is is:
The Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him.
This passage has been particularly special to me for a few years now because it’s the passage I clung to when I left my job in North Carolina and started on the journey back to RI (a long, unexpected journey).
I loved the parish where I was serving in North Carolina. I mean, loved it. Probably a little too much because I was working myself into a tizzy about all the things I thought I should be doing, and I had a whole bunch of self-imposed stress (why do we do that to ourselves??). As much as I loved it there, about three years in I kept hearing God telling me it was time to go. God has been right about everything else in my life so I like to listen when that happens, but every time I would ask for clarification – “Go WHERE??”- my question was met with resounding silence.
So naturally, I ignored the nagging to go. Sporadically I would try to honor the still small voice by applying for another job, but then I would just pull my name from the search like and idiot because it didn’t feel right. It wasn’t until about a year later that I was at a conference in California and I finally realized what God was telling me to do. I had to just GO. No destination – I just had to not stay where I was.
Luckily for me I have a husband who’s a good sport, and agreed to pick up and go with me. I wrote all about it here. We traveled, we embraced the unknown (which is not to say there weren’t several bouts of anxiety along the way) and we ended up back in RI, with me working as the director of ECC. I totally had to live with my mom for a year (I don’t want to romanticize this whole story – there’s still a credit card bill lingering from that little leap of faith) but I feel strongly that we are just where we are supposed to be.
We talk all the time about taking “calculated risks”. Because it’s ok to try something that might fail as long as you can be assured you won’t totally land on your face. But I’m just not sure God calls us to take “calculated risks.” Abram certainly didn’t play it safe. This guy was a million years old already and happily settled into retirement when God told him to pick up and go – and living at his mom’s house was just not on the list of alternatives. And yet God did bless him, and Abram’s long-abandoned dreams came true.
I feel like it should be noted that Abram’s journey was not all butterflies and rainbows either. A couple of times in there while he was waiting for God to fulfill God’s promise Abram (now Abraham) took matters into his own hands and things got a little hairy. But what I love about Abraham’s story is that he wasn’t punished for having a total control-freak moment – God continued to guide and bless him along the way.
I have a good friend who always says that when she’s discerning God’s will God only says three things to her: YES, NO, and WAIT. That has been a terrifically helpful tool for me in my life. But I think I’m realizing – through scripture and my own experience – that God says four things: YES, NO, WAIT, and GO.
I’m not sure where God might be telling you to GO right now. It might just be that you are supposed to go to the gym, or to visit someone you haven’t seen in a while. Maybe you need to go on a trip or a retreat that’s going to push you outside of your comfort zone. Maybe you need to pick up and leave a relationship that just isn’t healthy for you anymore. Maybe you need to quit your job and leave for a foreign land – calculated risk be damned. I don’t know what your calling is, but I beg you to listen to it. The blessings that result are just too good to miss.