The LORD had said to Abram,
"Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you.
"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."
So Abram went, as the LORD had told him. (Genesis 12:1-4)
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The Lord invited Abram (later called Abraham) into a life of adventure and meaning. On the other hand, the choice required Abraham to leave his comfort zone -- the safety and security of his own country, his own people and his father’s household. Heading off to Canaan, Abraham quickly became a minority, immersed among peoples who lived, looked, thought, spoke and believed differently. I’ve been there, in situations where I feel like the only one of my species. (An American in New Zealand! ☺) It’s easy to get defensive, even fearful, and switch into self-protection mode.
The natural compulsion when afraid is to seek protection from what we fear. Even though Abraham’s God-given vocation was to be a blessing to all peoples on the earth, it didn’t come naturally or easily. In fact, Abraham’s fear-induced actions (better, reactions) among the Egyptians caused them so much trouble that they paid him to leave and gave him a police escort out of the country! Not really what God had in mind back in chapter 12, was it? What went wrong? When we’re afraid, Abraham shows us, we do things that feel to others more like a curse than a blessing.
A short time later, God in his goodness appears to Abraham with these words, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.” (Genesis 15) God even assures him that, even though things will not always be rosy for his descendents, Abraham himself will “die in peace, at a ripe old age.” In essence, he said, “Stop fearing for yourself, Abraham. Start trusting me, so that I can bless you, so you can bless others, like I promised.”
In the same way, as children of Abraham, believers are called to move into the unknown in order to be a blessing to others. When we’re afraid, like Abraham, we put the shield up, we protect ourselves -- we do things that feel to others more like a curse than a blessing. It always takes trust in God to be a blessing. Let’s not let fear keep us from reaching out in friendship and blessing to all around us.
Let’s trade in our fear for faith.
Just a thought…