We Must Grow Up!
By Dot Bowen
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.” Genesis 12:1 (NIV)
In every area of my life, in order to grow, I had to let go. How do we let go of the past so we can be present in the present? In 1 Corinthians 13:11 Paul said, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” As a child, I didn’t understand having faith in God. As a child, I didn’t know God had a plan for my life. As a teenager, I gave my life to Jesus and began a journey of life with Him. Hebrews 11:6 says without faith it is impossible to please God. I certainly want to please God! But what does faith look like? How can I grow up in my faith? In order to answer some of my own questions, I began to study the life of Abraham, the father of faith!
In Genesis 12:1 God asked Abraham to leave his country, his people, his father, and all that was familiar to him to journey toward the unknown. Obviously, if these are the first recorded words from God, they must be very important. God was going to use Abraham to start over with His chosen people. Yet, in this first conversation there is no mention of faith. Abraham is later recognized for his faith, but at the very beginning of God’s work in his life, God doesn’t say, Abraham, leave all you know and just trust me! No, God only directed Abraham to leave, and as Abraham obeyed God, his faith grew. I believe God wanted to be the sole influencer to shape Abraham‘s life. In order for God to do this, Abramaham had to leave everything familiar to him.
The events of Abraham’s life not only demonstrate his faith but are also evidence of his journey of letting go! Abraham left his land and let go of his dream of having a child. In Genesis, God tells Abraham he will have a child; however, many years pass before it happens. Scripture tells us Abraham’s wife, Sarah, decided to help God give Abraham a child by ordering her maidservant Hagar to sleep with Abraham. Hagar gave birth to Ishmael, and Ishmael represented God’s promised child to Abraham. But in God’s perfect time, He chose to fulfill His promise to Abraham. God told Abraham he had to let go of Ishmael because he was not the child of promise. Abraham realized he had to make the very difficult decision to let go of what he believed to be God’s promise (Ishmael). God promised to bless Abraham with another son, Isaac. Ishmael was a result of Abraham and Sarah’s plan, but Isaac was God’s plan. Abraham and Sarah laughed at the thought of a ninety-year old woman getting pregnant, and Isaac brought them laughter. Out of pain will soon come laughter! Abraham was finally able to enjoy God’s promise—he inhabited the land God promised to him, and he had an heir!
Years later, Abraham was content with his life when God made another difficult request of him. God asked Abraham to let go again, but this time he had to let go of one of God’s promises and blessings. What an incredibly difficult thing to do! I wonder if Abraham thought, I understand having to let go of land. And I totally understand letting go of Ishmael—he was my idea. But God, Isaac was Your idea; he was Your promise! God specifically told Abraham to place Isaac on an altar, and he had to let go of God’s promise. Abraham once believed having an heir meant everything to him, but when he laid Isaac on the altar, he realized God was really his everything!
In each of our lives there will come a time when we must let go of something we hold dear. Why? Because what we possess, we do not own. It is one thing to feel we have possessions, but it’s another to believe we have ownership. This includes anyone or anything we love. As I studied the events of Abraham’s life, God allowed me to look back over what I once thought brought life to me. Those things do not compare with having Jesus as my life. Maybe you have to get old to understand this truth because it is a process. But I know for certain, one day we will all know what we believe to be everything means nothing compared to having God. When God is our everything, we can become everything He has created us to be. When Abraham gave all he loved to God, he received a greater faith in the God he loved! What do you need to let go of so you can grasp all of God? As Corrie Ten Boom said, “You won’t know God is all you need until He becomes all you have!” You can trust the unknown to a known God.
Further Reading 1 Corinthians 13:11; Genesis 11-25; Exodus 2:24; Acts 7:2-8; Romans 4; Galatians 3; Hebrews 2:6, 7, 11:6