Last week I introduced you to Nabeel Yasin, “the poet of Baghdad,” whose poetry was loved by the Iraqi people, but blacklisted by Saddam Hussein. Fearing for his life, Nabeel and his family fled Iraq in 1980 and sought refuge in many cities throughout the Mideast and Europe.
Like nomads, they wandered for literally years, longing to find a place to call home. They hunkered down in Budapest for ten years, but in 1992, following the falling of the Iron Curtain, and the rise of Nationalism in the Socialist country, Nabeel and Nada thought it best to move on, finally sinking their family roots in London.
Abram—better know as Abraham—also knew well the wanderer’s life. He grew up in Ur of the Chaldeans with his brothers, Nahor and Haran. Haran died and their father, Terah, decided to move his family to Canaan. Instead, they settled in Haran. Abram was already married to Sarai (his half sister) at the time of the move.
When Abram was seventy-five, God said to him, “Have I got a deal for you! I have some land that I’d like you to have, no strings attached. I know you’re gonna’ love it. So, pack up all your possessions and gather up your immediate family and livestock and be ready to go tomorrow at 7:00 a.m.”
“Just where exactly is it you’re taking me?” Abram asked, with a touch of skepticism in his voice.
“Well, it’s kind of hard to explain, but I’ll get you there safe and sound—promise!”
“So you expect me to pack up, no questions asked, and go heaven knows where? For all I know you may have some swamp land you’re trying to unload.”
“Now, now, it’s not swamp land! It’s prime property, stretching to the horizon in all directions.
“Sounds too good to be true, if you ask me,” countered Abram. What’s the catch?”
“Like I said earlier, no strings, no catch. In fact, I’m going to bless your descendants and they will be more numerous than all the stars in the universe...”
“Let me sleep on…”
…and you’ll be famous and revered for eons and eons for the faith that you put in me.”
“Famous, you say?”
“Come on, you gotta’ get packing!”
“Okay, but you’re gonna’ have to break the news to Sarai.”
Obviously, I’ve taken liberty with the Biblical account of God’s call to Abram—a projection, no doubt, of how I might react if God instructed me to pack up and leave home with no clue as to the itinerary or destination. Moving away from family is no small deal. Its life changing: there’s homesickness, second-guessing of the decision, feeling like an outsider in an unfamiliar community, trying to adjust to a new house, the “you can’t go home again” phenomena—and what if the grocery doesn’t carry my favorite ice cream bars?
What God actually said to Abram was:
"Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. 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. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Genesis 12: 1-3 NIV)
Abram set out, obediently, traveling to Shechem, to Bethel and then on to the Negev. Abram veered off course and went to Egypt to sit out a famine, later retracing his steps to the Negev and back to the Bethel area. He packed up camp again and went to live near the trees of Mamre at Hebron.
Wow, that’s a lot of moving—and there was no “Two Guys and a Truck” back then. But most amazing is Abram’s obedience and trust in God. Abram is the Olympic gold medalist of faith.
When you’re wandering through a desert in your life, think of Abram: trust, obey, step out in faith. Your Divine Walking Buddy is before you, behind you, and beside you.