God called Abram and gave his first commandment: “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1). So Abram left.
Whether or not our immigration journey began with the conscious calling of God, it certainly began under the sovereign rule of God. As we look straight down at our feet and the land upon which we stand, we wonder why we’re here or perhaps how we got here. Did God call me to this moment?
I’ve heard that the concept of linear movement, going from a beginning to an end, is a Western thought that began with Abraham’s immigration journey. In the ancient period, people, especially the Eastern culture, thought of time as cyclical rather than linear. Just like the seasons, spring, summer, autumn, and winter, the time repeats itself, thereby nothing being new and nothing being old. If one believes in the cyclical nature of life, then progress, at least the linear progress, would be stunted or at the very least, slow. Abraham’s journey marks a new concept of linear progress having a beginning and moving towards a destination. In this sense, the very movement of Abraham is progress. God, wanting a 75 year old man to get up and do something with his life, tells him to “go,” first commandment towards progress.
Abram is being called to go into a complete unknown where he doesn’t know the people, the territory, the language, the food, the culture. In the known, he is done. In the known, there is no movement. There is no need for movement. He has obtained as much as he can in the known. When he enters the unknown, he progresses for he is forced to learn, to adapt, to discern.
As I stand here and look down at my feet and the land upon which I stand, I wonder if I am “going,” or “progressing” towards something unknown. I know I had a starting point. And I know that here is not my destination. This is not my final stop. God, I hope this is not my final stop. Am I, then, still progressing towards a destination? Am I picking up everything that I’ve learned up until now and moving forward to an unknown? At age 47, God still impels me to “go.”
When God told Abram to go, he gave Abram some awesome promises. God said, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:2-3). Wow! If you get a promise like that, well, why wouldn’t you go into wherever God calls you to be and face whatever the monster you imagine in the unknown?
As God calls me to go, what promises is he giving to me? “Go and I will make the internet available to you so you can speak to the entire world. I will give you the prestige of your occupation so people will listen to you. I will give you money to bless those around you. I will give you a warm house to live in, a good family to enjoy life with, friends to laugh with, cars to take you to places, food on the table.” “Go,” he says.
Stepping into the new year in 2018, I decided to go to the unknown. There’s a popular saying from many motivational speakers that you become the average of the five people you spend the most time with. It stems from the law of averages which is a theory that the result of any given situation will be the average of all outcomes. We may interact with many people but it’s really the few people who are closest to us who has the greatest impact in our lives. After reviewing who I was spending most of my time with, I decided that it was time for me to meet new people. I signed up for a course that seemed interesting. The course being completely unrelated to my career and outside my circle of people and subjects, I met new people in different walks of life. I met a professor in Pasadena, a life coach to the executives, a very well-read housewife, an upholstery designer, and many others that I normally wouldn’t have the chance to meet. I learned new things that expanded my perspectives and literally expanded my worldview. Being a believer that God does not waste any of our experiences and that there is no such thing as a coincidence, I am convinced that I am meeting the people and learning the things scheduled just so by God. And I pleasantly wait in great expectation to see how all these will come together for good according to his purpose.
But even if there is no such great ending to these experiences and even if he does not grant me all the niceties of life, I know that God is able to bless me abundantly so that, in all things, at all times, having all that I need, I will abound in every good work. Yes Lord, I will go.