The Story of Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 12:1-9) Openness to Fresh Possibilities
Bruce G. Epperly
Life is full of unexpected invitations. Sometimes, when we expect life to be stable, we’re invited to go on an adventure into uncharted lands. As the story goes, Abram and Sarai were a retired couple. They’d lived a good life, had a nice home, and set aside enough money for a comfortable retirement. They’d had everything a couple could want except children, someone to carry on the family name and legacy. They expected to live in Haran the rest of their lives…until, they heard the Voice.
First, I suspect the Voice came to them as a gnawing feeling of restlessness and discontent with their settled life. Then, the Voice came subtly in the forming of a vision, a picture of a distant country, and new possibilities. At first, they disregarded this inner restlessness and the vision that came with it. No doubt they gave all sorts of reasons to stay where they were:
“We have a nice home and a good routine. Why would we give this up for a dream?” “We’re too old to uproot ourselves. We don’t have the energy for another move.” “This is foolishness. Look at what we’d be giving up, and with no guarantees.”
But, the Voice kept coming – in dreams, in chance encounters, and in that constant restlessness and feeling that there must be “something more to life” than growing old in Haran.
We can imagine that this couple wrestled with their emerging dream, weighing the pros and cons of following the Vision and the Voice. They put it off, and put it off, probably for weeks and months, and then one day, they came to a decision. “It’s either now or never. We aren’t getting any younger. If we don’t go now, we never will.” And, so they began the hard work of gathering up their possessions, selling their home, and preparing for the journey, guided by nothing more than a promise of a new land and a vision of far horizons.
“They journeyed by stages,” so says the scripture. The greatest journey begins with one step, and then another and another. With only the Voice and Vision to guide them, each step took them further from home, further from the familiar, further into the land of the unknown and unknowing.
In ancient times, people believed that each city or country had its own gods. Beyond the borders, these gods had neither power nor authority. But, this Voice and Vision was different. Like the wind, it blew everywhere, unfettered and beyond mortal control, it was anywhere and everywhere.
At first, Abram and Sarai expected the Voice to abandon them at the border. At their first stop outside the precincts of Haran, they set up an altar of stone. Their sacrifice was intended to lure the Voice beyond the border. But, then they discovered something surprising. The Voice was already there, waiting for them. Like the air they breathed, it could not be localized. From then on, Abram and Sarai erected altars and prepared sacrifices; but this time, it was not to invoke the Voice but to awaken themselves to the guidance and vision that called them forward. So by stages, Abram and Sarai, whose journey called forth new names, Abraham and Sarah, ventured to the frontiers of a promised land, living the adventure that Divine Wisdom imagined for them.
Listen! Awaken your senses! Could a Voice and Vision be luring you on an adventure?