ONE OF THE neat things about helping people tell their life stories is how you get to see God’s hand in their past, including times when they may not have been aware of it. It’s amazing how all those apparent missteps, mistakes, missed opportunities, misunderstandings, and more somehow come together in a way that we could never have imagined.
I’m not one of those who believes that God precisely ordains everything that happens to us ahead of time and we just get to play them out like a script, even though He would have to be pretty brilliant to be able to work that all out in advance. I’m more of the view that He has a grand destination in mind, and somehow works with all the in-between stuff to get us there. More improvisation than script, the work of an amazing artist-juggler rather than a rigid writer.
Anyhoo, whatever the truth of how God does it, many times we aren’t as aware of what He is up to as we may think. Even when we are diligently seeking His guidance and direction.
Consider Abraham (as he became), the father of the faith. The call to him in Genesis 12:1-3 is the first declaration of God’s mission heart; “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And 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. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
God spoke these words to then-Abram when he was living in Haran. But actually, that wasn’t where God’s plan for him began. Later, when Abram is dithering a bit in Canaan, God reassures him that things are going to work out even though they seem impossible (for instance, a really old guy having a son). God tells him, “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess” (Gen. 15:7).
What? Didn’t God speak to Abram when he was in Haran? Yes, but Abram had arrived there from Ur of the Chaldeans, with his father, Terah, and nephew, Lot. They were on their way to Canaan but for some reason got stalled along the way. According to Genesis 11:31, “Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there.”
It can be dangerous to fill in the blanks of Scripture’s silence, but there is nothing here about God speaking directly to Terah about making that move. And, however Terah came to make the decision, Abram was a passenger in it all, not a driver. Yet from His perspective, God says later that He brought Abram up from Ur of the Chaldeans. It was not all just happenstance.
It’s a reminder that our view of what God is doing in our lives, or has done, may not necessarily be complete. It’s encouraging to know that God may have been up to more than we knew all along. He started long before we were aware of Him working.
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