Grace and Peace to you.
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” …. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
—Genesis 12.1-2, 4
God grants us lives that are more interesting than predictable. I’m only 57, not 75, but these days I feel like Abram: every United Methodist pastor serves under the appointment of their Bishop, and this summer my Bishop is appointing me to another church (in Acton, Massachusetts.) This will be our sixth move, so we’re used to this business of stepping off into the unknown. The temptation, of course, is to pretend that it’s not unknown: to imagine that I can just be the same and do more of the same, that I don’t have to learn or be anything new. That would be too bad.
We resist change and the unknown, partly because we fear loss. I’ll miss some friends, and my dear New Hampshire woods. But mostly we fear the loss of control, knowing what to do. Since we identify so deeply with our control, it feels like we’re losing ourselves. Well, in fact that is true, since we really are invited to become new people. Abram became Abraham.
But in all our travels and travails, in consolations and desolations, no matter what treasures are taken, or trophies given to us, through all our changes, even as we leave who we are behind and become new people, two things are constant. One is our soul, the holy core, the divine nucleus of who we are that cannot be taken away or changed. All God’s transformations faithfully honor our deepest self; they do not destroy it. Let all that is new and unknown strip away what is external and reveal your soul.
The second: God did not say to Abram, “Go find it.” God said, “I will show you.” This also is constant: the Holy Presence who abides, who lives so intimately with us that it is not above or beside us but within. When things about us are busy and changing, it takes time to sit still and go within to meet that Presence. But the Beloved is there. In all your changes, seek that holy seed of who you are, your eternal soul, and seek the One who abides within. And you will find that they are one, that your soul is of God, and yearns for God, and leans toward God. This mystery will accompany you through all changes and illumine the unknown. Go from Abram to Abraham. Go from merely having a soul to being one; let go of everything else—and no changes will trouble you.
No matter how far the lands where you roam,
your journey is always coming home.
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes