About a year ago, my wife and I began praying about one of the most important decisions we have had to make together. At that time, I had been the Associate and Youth Pastor at a small church in my hometown for about four years. The decision we were praying over was whether it was time to leave the ministry. To do what, you might ask. Well…that’s the big question now isn’t it?
In Genesis 12, we read the story of Abram, a man referred to later as the “friend of God” (James 2:23). The first interaction we see between God and Abram is this:
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” (Genesis 12:1-3).
What stands out to me, other than there is no previous mention of a relationship between Abram and God, is God’s command to Abram…go from your country to the land I will show you. Not, I have shown you; not even I am about to show you, rather I will show you. Meaning…you have no idea where you are headed, but I want you to go, and I am going to bless you for it. Does that sound as crazy to you as it does to me? Here, God shows up on the scene and wants Abram to go to a land that He hasn’t shown him yet! What’s crazier is that Abram actually obeys! Who would actually do that? *chuckle*
So, my wife and I prayed for a little more than 6 months before we finally decided that it was time to leave the ministry. (To be clear, what I mean by that is that my time as a staff pastor at my home church was done; it was time for someone else to lead the flock. What I do NOT mean is that there was some sort of impropriety or division and we were leaving poorly or under pressure. ) Being the prudent people we are, we decided to wait to announce it to the church until we had another gig lined up. Makes sense, right? Except for the fact that 5 months and almost 100 job applications later, there was nothing lined up. (Apparently, companies are not looking for pastors who want a career change. Weird, I know.) That is when this passage really came to life for me.
You see, what I have learned over the last year, and especially over the last month, is that our willingness to listen to God, follow His lead and step out in faith, comes down to one thing…trust in Him. Trust in the goodness of God. While it is not stated in the passage, I believe that Abram stepped out in faith and trusted God, because He believed God to be good. If you read before Genesis 12, Abram has had it pretty rough. First, his brother dies, then dad moves the whole family, then dad dies. Abram was looking for something better. Then God came along and offered him just that, something better…much better. So what did Abram do? He stepped out in faith and went to a land the God eventually showed him. Why? Because he believed God to be good.
My wife and I have no idea what lay ahead for us; no clue what His plan entails, but this much we know…He has asked us to trust Him. And as children of the light (Ephesians 5:8-10), we seek to please Him. We do this by trusting Him, and not just Him, but in who He is, namely, His goodness.