When I was pondering on what I might write for my Janurary post, I allowed my NIV bible to fall open in Genesis at random. It opened at Genesis 12 – The call of Abram:
12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
2 “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.[a]
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you
Why I wondered had God chosen this particular passage, perhaps it’s because my journey so far has been seeking to answer his call, without I must admit, with a discernible level of success.
But there are elements here that ring true in some ways!
“Go from your country, your people and your father’s house to the land I will show you”.
I live in North Kent, yet I worship and belong to a Parish 54 miles away at the other end of the county. I joined the parish when I was serving in the Army, away from my home, somehow God called me back to him, and to be in a strange place. To minister to the people there and not at my home. The follow on from this was a vocation for ministry in that place, which has extended to my wife and we now both feel a strong call to do what Abram was called to do. To up sticks and move away from family and friends and to live and work in that place. So far, events have prevented that happening, but crucially, we see the door, partly opening, opening wide as my spouse moves to her retirement in 2013.
“2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great”
The implications of this passage are not as clear. Considering that I am in my sixties and my spouse is close to sixty, it’s unclear how our nation will increase or become great. We are reassured though that we have five grandchildren, who might increase the nation naturally in due course. Although, I wonder if the world is ready for a whole new clan of @minidvr’s?
We feel very strongly that we have been blessed! Since returning to Christianity and following that initial call, our lives have been transformed. We’ve been on a journey of faith, which has taken us to different places. This journey has been wild, exciting and frustrating at times.
Seeking God’s will is a little like a treasure hunt, where the person who sets it up, forgets where they have hidden the prize – meaning random wanderings, occasionally through perseverance finding an occasional clue, but never quite finding the ultimate prize. Getting those glimpses is a thing of joy, but also one of impatience and frustration. The Church can sometimes seem to be the villain in this, moving slowly, nearly imperceptibly forward, while seeming to be placing obstacles in the path. I see these as a test of sorts, of character, of perseverance but also of formation – because despite the frustrations, each episode results in new insights and new points of growth.
At this stage on the journey, we’ve been given a slightly wider glimpse of a possible pathway as Parish Missioner – but just as it starts to develop as a joint vision, the Church has taken the chief facilitator away to a new appointment? Murphy’s Law? or another test? So, another delay, but one with some positive aspects as I embark on the first stage of training for it with #Deepening Discipleship at CWR Waverley commencing this month.
“I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing”.
This one is a little more problematic. I am not seeking to make my name great. Rather the opposite, to serve where God is calling me humbly and with humility (is that a sign of vanity?). If I am blessed, I hope that by the Grace of God, I am able to share those blessings with others, and by doing so, making the Word and Name of God known in the hearts of others.
“I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you”.
Wow, I thank God for his blessing, but I hope that he doesn’t curse anyone for my sake, because my cursing anyone is the last thing on my mind! In some ways this reminds me of Matthew 7.1(NIV) “Do not judge or you too will be judged”.
Judgment in biblical Old Testament terms can have some quite drastic consequences. I wonder if not judging others prevents our forming opinions or views between what is right or wrong behaviour and seeking to amend that behaviour?
Paul in Romans 2.1 tells us to “avoid rash, censorious and unjust judgment” and Luke in 6.7 explains it in terms of condemning. If Christ doesn’t judge censoriously, why should I?
If I were to ‘curse’ all Bankers, would God curse them as well? I think that it comes back to the old expression which while not in scripture in this form “Love the Sinner – not the Sin”.
I pray that from this passage, people will be blessed through God allowing me to be an instrument of his Grace in the world.
In summary, just wandering through the bible, allowing it to drop open at a particular place or chapter can be thought provoking and stretch your imagination a bit more. Must do it more often as I embark on a ‘Year with the Bible’ in the next few days.