In today’s reading we see Abram reaching Canaan, but going on wandering from place to place, setting up an altar in each and then moving on in response to God’s call. It can’t have been the ending Abram was hoping for when he set out in faith on his journey.
I remember thinking this time last year that I was reaching some sort of ending on my own journey. I had found, I believed (and still believe) the role God was calling me to. I had answered that call. Surely now I would be allowed to rest for a while? But no. It has been a year or beginnings, rapid change, running to keep up.
It reminds me a bit of going walking with a group. Those who are faster will pause every now and then to allow others to catch up. But by the time the slowest have caught up, those who have already had their break are ready to set off again, and so the stragglers never get a break at all. When we journey with God, he is always ahead of us (as well as with us) and it can feel like we are always trying to catch up. As soon as we arrive where we thought we were going, God calls us on to the next place, which we hadn’t even known was there when we set out. That must be how it felt to Abram. He had done what God asked, followed where God led, and still God was calling him on to somewhere new.
But the flip side of this continual journeying is that it takes us places we could never have anticipated. When we set out to follow God, which of us could imagine how that journey will go? God calls us on into uncharted territory and reveals to us more than we could possibly ask or imagine. It is not the destination (or what we suppose to be the destination) that matters, so much as the journey itself – and that realisation frees us to enjoy the view along the way.