The anatomy of an Abrahamic calling – Excerpt from our soon-to-be-released book, Marriage on Mission

I completed the draft of our book, Marriage on Mission while flying home from Detroit today!  (The crowd goes wild!)

Sandi is writing a response between each chapter, and she hopes to finish soon.  Lord willing, the book will be available before Christmas.

I chose this excerpt from the final chapter because so many leaders I coach are entering a new, untested season.  Like Abraham, they are leaving the known and familiar for a foreign land, one that will be shown to them along the way.

There are no maps.  There are no guarantees.

But, there are promises.  And, there is a guide.

From Marriage on Mission, chapter 8:

What does the next chapter of our story look like? To be honest, God has not revealed that to us yet. Will we continue living in Pawleys Island after our youngest graduates high school? Will we someday serve on the staff of a local church again? Will I finally hit my growth spurt and reach 5’9” before I turn 50?

We simply do not know (except for that last one!).
We don’t know yet because God has placed a certain kind of call on our lives. We are experiencing an Abrahamic calling, not a Mosaic calling.

What’s the difference?
“Go from you country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

Here’s what we read about God calling Moses in Exodus 3:7 – 10:

“I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt…So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

We observe:

Abraham was told to leave Harran and begin a journey without a specific destination in mind. God promised to show him along the way. (He knew his general destination was Canaan, but God was short on specifics.)

Abraham was promised territory, blessing, his name to be made great, his descendants to form a nation, and to become the instrument of blessing to everyone on earth.

Moses was immediately given a specific destination and mission. Go to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to release the Israelites and lead them out of the country.

God promised to be with Moses. God also promised that Moses and the Israelites would worship him on the same mountain where the burning bush encounter took place. (In other words, God promised that the mission would be successful.)

These patriarchs are a study in contrasts: Abraham starts packing his bags while Moses starts making excuses. The reasons Moses gave God for NOT going to Egypt and chatting with Pharaoh?

Who am I? Can’t you send someone important? I don’t even know your name – what if they ask who sent me? What if they don’t believe me? I am not good at speaking in front of groups. Can’t you send someone else? Anyone?

Moses became the leader of millions because everyone else in line took one step backwards and he never got the text! No, he didn’t want to lead. He tried leading as a younger man, and it was a disaster. He simply wanted to wander the backside of the dessert caring for his father-in-law’s sheep.

But, God intervened. God pursued him. Is God intervening in your life? Do you feel pursued? If so, turn towards him. Embrace him. Not only does he have something for you to do, he has someone for you to become along the way.

Want to grow into the best possible husband or wife? Submit to God’s will and ways and become that person!

A few reflections that are helping us navigate the road before us:

First, both are legitimate calls of God. Moses was reluctant, filled with doubt and fear, and totally unqualified in his own mind. God answered every one of Moses’ objections, made provision for him by giving him a staff that morphs into a snake and by sending his brother Aaron to stand with him and communicate to Pharaoh.

There are instances when God lays it out for us and explains on the front end what he intends to do and how he intends to do it. He patiently answers our questions and leads us, step by step, into accomplishing his will. Whatever we need he supplies and whatever he supplies is always enough.

Abraham, on the other hand, had a different experience. His calling was oblique. He was told to leave home and embark on a one-way journey, but several important details were missing. In other words, God left gaps in the revelation. These “God-Gaps” mean that we lack the resources within ourselves to complete the mission and guarantee that if God doesn’t show up and fill those gaps we are doomed to failure. (Moses encountered several God-Gaps as well, but they were not as directional in nature.)

Although Abraham’s calling was more of a “just-in-time” arrangement, the promises he received were very specific and deeply profound. It was the promise of millions of descendants that captured his heart and imagination. He was an old man with no children, desperate for an heir. If God could make good on this promise leaving home without a GPS would be a small price to pay.

Sandi and I are getting our marching orders from God these days on a “need-to-know” basis. We feel like Israel in the wilderness. We get up each morning, look out of our tent to see if the pillar of cloud stayed put overnight (to determine if we are staying or leaving), and walk outside to collect enough manna for that day.

We have no 5-year plan. We do not know where we will be living in 19 months. Our budget is more focused on daily bread than annual forecasts. The marriage retreat we are hosting next month could lead to incredible opportunity or be a complete bust. There is a moment-to-moment texture to our lives; we have climbed out so far on this faith limb there is no turning back. When it eventually snaps we are trusting God to catch us in mid-air.

In this sense we are free.

We are free because we are doing our very best to seek God and his kingdom as our first priority. And the promise he gives us in Matthew 6:33 says that as we do that he will meet all of our needs. So, it’s really on him. We need to be faithful with the day-to-day stuff he has asked us to do and trust Him to do all the heavy lifting.

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