Monday, March 6
Now 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.”
Just before I started kindergarten, my family moved to Hong Kong, and on my first day of school, we moved from our hotel to a temporary apartment. As I remember it, Dad dropped me off in a taxi that morning, gave me an index card with my school bus number, and told me the name of an apartment complex. My predicament was that I would have to go home that afternoon without yet knowing where home was.
Convinced that I would miss the bus or miss my stop and find myself adrift and alone in a foreign city, I approached a relatively simple task with something less than calmness and fortitude. Mercifully, a patient, unflappable teacher’s aide got me onto the right bus with time to spare. I watched anxiously from a window seat as the bus wound its way along its route and wondered where to get off. The apartment complex Dad had named was enormous, with stops at multiple identical buildings. All I could do was scan the crowd of parents waiting at each one, praying that I would recognize my own. Finally, there was Dad. I got off the bus, and he took me home.
In these verses, Abram doesn’t even get an index card. God commands him to leave everything he knows and go “to the land that I will show you.” The future tense sticks out to me: God doesn’t tell Abram what land it is, how far away it is, or how long it will take him to get there (spoiler alert: it’s gonna be a while). God’s promise requires Abram to dwell a long time with uncertainty. But the uncertainty makes it no less a promise.
We’re inclined to look for encounters with Christ more in the destination or the fulfillment of the promise than in the space of uncertainty preceding it: once God shows us the place, once we get to the blessing, then we’ll see him. We look for Christ at every stop, but he’s been with us all along. In entering into our humanity, he has also entered into our uncertainty and all the fears that go with it. In the times of anxious journeying or wandering, before God has shown us the place, Christ encounters us, even if we don’t yet realize it—or realize how the encounter is shaping us. We can trust God to show us the place and fulfill the promise, knowing that Christ goes with us the whole way.
Dear Lord, help us to recognize your presence when we are still on our way to the places that you will show us, and give us your peace. Amen.