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Abraham and the Unfamiliar Way

Abraham and the Unfamiliar Way

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Published by Doug Floyd
Reflections on the Lenten Journey through the life of Abraham and his call to leave everything behind and follow the Lord.
Reflections on the Lenten Journey through the life of Abraham and his call to leave everything behind and follow the Lord.

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Published by: Doug Floyd on Apr 15, 2011
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Abraham and the Unfamiliar Way
April 15, 2011Doug Floyd
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. And 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 him who dishonors 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. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife,and Lot his brother's son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan.When they came to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD.And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.(Genesis 12:1-9 ESV)
Abraham
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leaves the world he knows and steps out into the unknown. Genesis tells usthat God tells Abraham to "Go!" Later, when Joshua recounts this journey we hear a thatGod took Abraham out of the land.
And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan, and made his offspring many. I gave him Isaac.(Joshua 24:2-3 ESV)
God calls Abraham. God takes Abraham. Both happen at the same time. This suggeststhe call of Abraham may have been more dramatic than a simple invitation. The call ofGod is often cloaked in crisis, dissolution, and collapse of all our comfort places.Sometimes our Lord stands at the door and knocks. Sometimes he comes like a thief inthe night. When you say the Holy Spirit is a gentleman never forget that this gentlemanis a wind and a fire that may blow your house down and immerse you in His livingflames.
1 I refer to Abraham by the same name throughout these notes though his name actually starts as Abramand changes to Abraham during the story of this life.
 
We may sometimes speaks of spiritual formation as a series of disciplines like prayer,Bible study, fasting and the like. These are helpful and certainly patterns that we see inScripture. But let us never assume spirituality is trapped within our scope or definitions.All of life bleeds into one.Our spiritual life is our family life is our business life is our personal journey of "selfdiscovery." God is no respecter of the categories we create and use to control our lives.He breaks in anywhere and everywhere with His burning fury.Consider Father Abraham.Abraham comes from Ur, the wealthiest city-state in the world. The residents of thisworld seem safer than those who live at the edge of existence. These civilized peoplehave structures of support that assure their daily bread, their security, their self image.Abraham is called to leave this behind.He is taken out of this land, this culture, this world. He is called to live in the land of thepeople who live at the edge of existence. He leaves behind the world that guards hisidentity, his control over life, his survival. He is sent to a land that his offspring willinherit.Much of his life is spent waiting and waiting and waiting for the promised offspring. Henever owns the promised land and dies with only a burial cave to him name.Abraham's journey into nowhere is way of rescue for a world that is collapsing. Ur isdying. Unlike Sodom, it's not being bombarded by fire from heaven, but it's dyingnonetheless. Before we even learn that the Lord calls Abraham out of the land of hisfathers, we find out that his wife Sarah is barren. In some ways her, barrennessrepresents the end of the culture. Ur still appears to be thriving, but it is fading andeventually fades away completely.Ur is trapped by cyclical thinking. As a past-oriented culture, they believe they are re-enacting some type of drama in the heavens. Ever person simply plays the role inculture they are supposed to play just like their father and his father before him.Abraham breaks the cycle. He leaves.The businesses, cultures, and systems that seem so secure and successful have noenduring quality. Our spiritual journey is often the story of stripping away of supportsthat seem firm but ultimate have no enduring quality.
 
We really are on journey, traveling across a wilderness. Look around. What seemspermanent is temporary and fleeting. Whether you're surrounded by the comforts of lifeor struggling to survive, remember that you are on journey. You are moving.The struggles and the successes are temporary signposts.God is calling you. God is taking you.He is leading us from faith to faith. He is leading us from love to love. Though the wayseems clouded and unclear at times know that He is leading, He is guiding, He issustaining.to be continued.
2
Immersed in the Unfamiliar
Remind yourself, when you wake to a strangeness of foreign lights through blowing trees out the window of yet another hotel,that home is only where you pretend you're from.What's familiar sends you packing,watching for "some lost place called home." You're from wherever you go.Rod Jellema 
One morning you wake to a world that is unfamiliar. Suddenly you're an alien. RodJellema captures this sense of unfamiliarity in his poem "Travel Advisory." He starts outin a foreign hotel, among foreign people and the sense of strangeness we feel. He endsby reminding us that when we return, we are still not home.
you're a citizen of never was a place.Remember not to feel too much at home.
Abraham leaves Ur and never returns home.He is searching for a city "whose designer and builder is God." He dies en route.Abraham's life is a sojourn through the unfamiliar.
2 My friend David Legg ends his writings with the subscript "to be continued." There is always more to saybut it may not be the time to say and we may not even be the persons to say it.

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