Genesis 12:1 – The Lord had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you." (NIV)
I have chosen to host international students for the past twelve years. I have had young men from the Netherlands, Japan, Korea and Germany. Each of them came to stay with me through the Youth For Understanding programme. They came to be a part of my family from August through July. Each one of the students was unique, and had different skills and talents. The one common thing they had was that they chose to be like Abraham in the Bible.
As I prepared my annual Christmas letter to them, it dawned on me that they, like Abraham, took a risk and left their homes. The very first word God ever spoke to Abraham in the Bible was: "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you." And Abram's response? "So Abram left, as the Lord had told him."
Now my international sons were not told by God to come to live with me, but their willingness to leave opened up a whole new world for them — just as it did for Abraham and his family. Abraham and his family travelled to a distant land, the land in what would become the Jews' "promised land". But first, he had to "leave". So did my international sons. They experienced a year away in a new land, which changed their lives.
Looking back at my life, I came to the realization that most of the positive things in my life happened when I chose to take the risk of leaving. Like my international sons and Abraham, I had to choose leave home in Massachusetts so I could attend Alma College in Alma, Michigan. After I graduated, I had to choose to leave the campus to get a job. God guided me back to Massachusetts to get a Master's in counselling psychology, and later to Maine where I received my Master of Divinity degree. Once again I made a choice to follow God's leading into ministry, which has led me to live in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and once again back to Michigan, where I currently reside with my wife.
God expanded my life experiences and those of my international sons because we chose to take a great faith-step — leaving what was familiar and safe and secure, and stepping out into God's great adventure. It may begin with a command to leave: to leave what is geographically familiar, and relationally familiar. We do not necessarily know the whole picture of what God is leading us into; often we see just the next step. Abraham was asked by God to leave for a future that was described simply as "the land I will show you". God wants us to trust the Planner, not the plan. Is this something we truly choose to do?
Prayer: Dear God, help us today to follow you into something that may lead us to new experiences. Help us to do what you are telling us to do. May we not choose to be like a child who refuses to leave the safety of family and home to go into the unknown. May we not miss the step that will enlarge our lives and take us into your great adventure. We ask this in the name of Jesus, your Son. Amen.