The Adventure of it2nd Sunday after Pentecost
I have shared from time to time the story my grandmother told me about homesteading in Alberta in the early 1900’s.
She used to tell me how beautiful it was on Prince Edward Island, when I was a boy. In those days we lived near the edge of the city and when the wind blew, so did the dust. I asked her about this wonderful place she left and she would tell me. It sounded like heaven and I wondered why she would leave. She left home at the age of nineteen to marry a man she had met only briefly. He had gone west to Alberta to homestead and suggested she come too and they would marry. In spite of her family’s pleading, she boarded the train and headed west around 1905. They had a little cottage on the prairie and nearly died in the winter. The difficulties were extreme and they finally packed up and headed into the town of Lethbridge where my grandfather pursued his trade as a carpenter. She lived to be eighty, but in all those years, never went home again to Prince Edward Island. I once asked why, if her home back east was so beautiful, she ever left. She just said, “Ah, it was the adventure of it.”
The adventure of it.
I wonder if Abraham and Sarah were up for the adventure as well. By the way, my grandmother’s name was Sarah too. No, my grandfather was not named Abraham. He was Jack MacDonald, and trust me, he was no Abraham!
But the Abraham and Sarah of Genesis picked up and went off to a land where God would lead them.
They never went back either.
For my grandmother, traveling over two thousand miles was a major journey, even with train travel. It was not unheard of, but you would not do that without giving it great thought. To leave home and family was to start a whole new life. Many did so for that very reason–to start over.
Many came from Europe because there was no chance of prosperity at home. It was the opportunity to forge a new life.
The sense we have with Abraham and Sarah is that they are doing fine in Haran, which is where they live, to the north east of Israel, perhaps in modern Syria or Iraq.
To leave home and family was something you would only do in the extreme of life.
Place and family were everything.
Outside your tribal homeland, you would be at great risk. You would have no kinship ties for protection or for any of the amenities of life.
Alone in a new land really was to put yourself in a vulnerable position.
But they went anyway.
Because God told them to go.
O.K., we say, Abraham is named as a man of real faith.
And so we accept that.
But stop and think about it for a minute.
Who is God, as far as Abraham knows?
Of course we really have no clue.
But what we know is that all we know about God was mostly just not available to Abraham.
He had no name yet, no identity.
Abraham and their kin lived with the notion of local regional deities, and personal household gods.
They were polytheists with a very limited notion of the God we worship. They had nothing of the Bible we now know.
In James Michener’s book The Source, the God of Abraham is only known as the voice that sometimes speaks to Abraham.
And yet, knowing almost nothing that we would know, they head off on this amazing adventure.
They put it all on the line for the God they hardly knew, at least on one level.
But on another level, they knew God far better than most of us ever will because they allowed the Lord to get close to them.
And yes, of course it is true that God chose Abraham and Sarah and became closely personal because it was the only way they would ever be able to receive God’s direction. God got so close and personal that he came and joined them around their encampment one day–ate a meal with them too.
But I think this morning, we should just stand back in amazement at the ways God comes into our lives.
God comes into your life and into mine in the way that we are able to receive Him–as long as we will receive Him.
And God calls us to abandon everything to follow and find a new life.
My grandmother was nineteen when she left home.
Abraham was ninety when God called him.
Sarah would have been close to the same age, and God promised them a son too.
No wonder Sarah got a chuckle out of that.
But amusement or no, they went where God led.
That kind of faith is amazing, but its scary too.
I really wonder what God might do in my life, and frankly I think most of us prefer a more tame version of God than that.
Maybe tame is not the right word.
We welcome the majesty and holiness of God.
As long as He doesn’t get too close.
And yet this is exactly what God does continually–gets close to us. Then He whispers to us about letting go of our security system and taking a chance.
If you listen very carefully, maybe you can hear the God of Abraham talking to you too.
But listen or no, the same stranger who shows up in Abraham and Sarah’s campsite, keeps showing up in the lives of folks like us.
I think their example is to keep your bags packed and be ready to move out.
Ah just for the adventure of it!