With apologies to Willie Nelson, Abraham was the first “On the Road Again” kind of guy. I have an iPhone, and oh my, what Abraham would have given to have one. He would have loved his iPhone for directions: “Siri how do I get to the Promised Land?”
Her response: “I do not understand what you mean, the Promised Land.” Then she would have added: “Are you talking about Alabama?”
Remember that not too long ago we all had MapQuest. Abraham would have typed in Destination: Palestine. “Take a left out of the Walmart Parking lot in Ur of the Chaldees. Go 200 miles and turn left at the second sand dune.”
Use your imagination in the Genesis 12 story:
“Abram was 75-years-old when he set out from Haran. A long trip on camel when you are 75. ‘Pass the Advil please’ Abram took his wife Sarai, his crazy nephew Lot, all the possessions they owned (just imagine the clanking of pots and pans on the camel’s back) and all the people in the family (add in the sound of babies and toddlers, wet wipes, strollers and diapers—the non-disposable type) and they all set out happily for Canaan.”
The amazing thing about the Abraham story is that he chose his journey. He stepped out in faith to follow God. Now, don’t think for one minute that Abraham was some perfect dude, husband or dad. He did some bad things. But he still is an example of faith. You and I might think that Abraham was some poor soul who had nothing better to do. In fact, we know that Ur, his home, was a very sophisticated city. God came to this wealthy, 75-year-old man, who spent most days playing golf (lots of sand traps in that part of the world), and said, “I have a plan for you.”
What a plan. On the road again…and again! It does seem that whenever God calls a person to faith, it involves a road. To Abraham it was the highway to Canaan. For the children of Israel, it was the road out of Egypt and to the Promised Land. For Jesus it was the road to Calvary. For Paul it was the Damascus Road. Sometimes the road is physical, sometimes spiritual or emotional. But the main metaphor for faith in the Bible is journey.
So now we are on the last leg, if you will, of the journey to the cross. We call it Holy Week. It’s been a bumpy road lately, with the Corona Virus crisis. It has involved some detours and new roads. Detours and new roads are tough for many of us; we like routines. We like for things to be the same. Heck, I like routines; no I love routines.
When I went to seminary in Ft. Worth, I ate breakfast for a couple of years at the same place every day. “Two over well with bacon” every single day. I wasn’t into healthy eating at the time. I graduated and had been away for about a year. I went back for a visit to that same restaurant. The waitress did not know my name, but she looked at me and said, “Two over well with bacon.”
For many of us, change equals trauma. When you move to a new community, new school, or new neighborhood, you have some of the most stressful times in your life.
Sometimes life has a way of moving us in directions we have never traveled. The change might be something you expect: a graduation, a marriage, the birth of a child, retirement, etc. Or some unforeseen event, like this Corona Virus crisis, the loss of a job, divorce, or even death. Suddenly, you feel like you are on a donkey in the middle of the desert.
It is ironic that now our Christian journey is “shelter in place.” We are at a rest stop on this new road and we must wait and use this time productively. Perhaps you have always believed that the Christian journey means that we must be constantly on the move like Abraham. Wrong! Now as we “shelter in place” we must continue to believe that God is with us and is guiding us as we wait.
For now, this is the journey.