Today we reflect on Abram’s call (Genesis 11.31-12.5). The writer of Genesis makes it all sound so straight forward: “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.’ ….. So Abram went, as the Lord had told him.” But I wonder… I wonder if Abram, sensing God’s call, asked himself if this could really be true, meant for him? I wonder if he tried to put it off, make excuses? I wonder if he weighed up everything he would be leaving behind, and asked himself if it would be worth it?
That’s certainly been my experience of God’s calling. The doubt. The trying-everything-to-ignore-it. The realisation that a call to something is, of necessity, also a call to leave something behind. This was brought home to me this morning. As I was robing for the All Age Eucharist, one of the servers, a very lovely lady and a great encourager, asked me about my Christmas plans. I explained that my family are coming to me this year. “Oh lovely!” she said “Your Mum will be able to come to Midnight Mass.” I explained that wouldn’t be happening, as my Mum is “not a churchgoer” (this is something of an understatement – think Richard Dawkins fanclub and you’ll be near the mark). “But surely,” she persisted, “she’ll want to come and see what you do. Surely she’s proud of you?”
And I hadn’t the heart to disillusion her. I didn’t want to say “actually, no, my Mum thinks what we do as a church is morally wrong, and is convinced I’m brainwashing children”. Because saying it reminds me of that truth, reminds me what I’ve lost, what I’ve walked away from, to follow God’s call for me. And I’m not saying it’s not worth it, because it absolutely is. But even when we are promised life in all its fullness, we can’t help but mourn what is lost along the way. I can’t, anyway.
So I wonder, as Abram packed up his things and prepared to leave Haran in search of the promised land, whether he looked back, remembered all that had happened in that place he called home, and had at least a moment’s regret. I wonder whether, as he followed God’s call, trusting God for an end he couldn’t yet see, he doubted for a moment if the upheaval, the long journey, the leaving-behind would all be worth it.
So often when we follow God’s call we don’t know where he will lead us. So it was for Abram, setting out for an unknown promised land, trusting in God’s word for him. But whatever his doubts or regrets, Abram stepped out in faith, because God called. May we too be ready to hear and respond to God’s call and his promise, not counting the cost, but trusting in God that he will lead us to where we are meant to be.