Stage One (Gen. 12:1-9)
By Bob Whitaker
For the next few devotional segments, I want to explore the nature of faith by looking at the life of Abraham. In order to do this, I would like to consider the stages of faith that God brought him through during his long life. The first stage of faith comes when God says, “Trust me even when the future is unknown. I want you to leave your country and journey away to an unknown future.” Now, most of us think it would be a sacrifice to give up the land of our birth and move to an unknown place. Of course, it does happen but it comes with numerous challenges. Missionaries leave their country to go to a foreign land in order to share the Gospel. Immigrants leave their country for a variety of reasons, some to escape persecution, others to simply find a better life. They leave behind their native language, a familiar landscape, food and customs. Perhaps most importantly, they leave behind all their contacts, such as friends, business associates, even the familiarity of which person to call when someone breaks into your house or your vehicle.
It is difficult enough to leave all your contacts, but it is often more difficult to leave your family. In those days it is likely that leaving family meant leaving an inheritance that included land. God says to Abraham, “I want you to leave your people and your land for a journey to an unknown land.” If we were traveling to a remote location in another part of the world, it is likely that we would do our research. We have plenty of resources to find current information on places all over the world – travel books, documentaries on the country and of course we can Google almost anything. But with Abraham there was no way to research the land where God was sending him. He simply had to trust God.
Of course, God did provide a promise. “If you follow me to this unknown land I will bless you. I will give you a son and make you a great nation. In fact, the whole world will be blessed through you.” That is a wonderful promise but there are no details, just a promise. He must have wondered about this strange, unknown land. What would it be like? Who would be its inhabitants? Would they be friendly or hostile? Would they accept a nomadic farmer like Abraham or would he be viewed with suspicion? Was it dangerous? These and many others must have been the questions that Abraham asked. So far as we know, God did not answer the questions, he just said, “Follow me.” The message was simple: “Trust me when your future is unknown.” Have you been there personally? Maybe you haven’t been called to leave your country for an unknown destination but you have probably been asked to trust God when your future is unknown. Things are very uncertain for many of us right now. What does the future hold? Will we be safe? Will our families be okay? When will things get back to normal? Right now is a good time to remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness. He called Abraham to follow and he calls us daily to follow him into an unknown future. I hope you are ready to trust God and follow him no matter how uncertain things may seem.