8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
Oswald Chambers, in My Utmost For His Highest, talks about Abraham, the man of faith, going away from everything and everyone he knew in obedience to God’s command – NOT KNOWING WHERE HE WAS GOING. His was a walk of faith, NOT REASON. I would have had a lot of trouble with that myself – I don’t even like being behind a large truck when I’m driving, because I can’t see the road ahead!
I don’t like not knowing where my life is going. I like calendars and time slots and projects and tasks and goals. If I don’t know where I’m going, how will I know how to get there? How will I know when I am getting near, and what to do when I get there? How can I succeed (or more accurately, avoid failing) if I don’t have the detailed agenda and milestones for achievement?
Yet God does not promise us any details about His particular plan for us, His timetable, or even what we are to accomplish. I wonder if that is because we would reason ourselves into a tizzy, questioning God on every item. However, I think it is mainly because He wants us to depend on Him daily for direction (if there even is any direction that day), instead of taking the instructions and telling Him we’ll just take it from here, saying “Thank You very much for the suggestions, God”.
Chambers stresses that although Abraham didn’t know WHERE he was going, he knew Whose hand was leading him, and that knowledge was enough for Abraham. He knew God well enough, His nature and character, to know that He was trustworthy for the journey ahead. Perhaps it was that intimate knowledge of God that also allowed Abraham to obediently raise the knife to sacrifice his son, saying to Isaac, “God will Himself provide the sacrifice.”
But where does that leave you and I? If you are anything like me, you are not thrilled with the idea of pitch black in front of us until we see heaven’s light. However, if this IS the way God does business with us, not telling us the day or hour that things will happen, maybe we had better learn to adjust our expectations (or dare I admit it, our DEMANDS) of Him, and give up hope on getting any detailed spiritual forecasts for our life. If we gave up that hope, we would be left with only one thing on our agenda everyday – to listen to and obey Him. What a novel thought!
Adjusting our focus from long term goals to simply loving God and others as we interact with them is a major mental shift for most of us. What if where we go and what we achieve simply isn’t important, and it is only how we treat God and the people that we meet along this journey to an unknown destination that matters at all? Everywhere Abraham went was a strange and foreign place to him, and he lived in temporary tents – nothing was very stable for him. The only constant in his life was God, Abraham’s friend and companion. Maybe that’s how we’re supposed to look at life, too.
So while we are on this unknown journey to strange lands, we have two choices: 1) continue complaining that we don’t know where God is taking us, or 2) decide to become better friends with the One who leads us so we feel safer about the journey, and do our best to love everyone we meet along the way. I would like to opt for number two – it is a lot less stressful than trying to figure everything out!