The Wanderlust

The urge is difficult to resist.  And if you are from here, you know that this has been going on for generations.  People of a certain age leave – there is no denying it.  First, it was Ontario, but now the road leads further west – because there are opportunities; there is adventure; there may even be a future.  Occasionally, they leave because they want (or need) a chance to start over.  Some go alone; others take greater risks and move in family groups.  There is a certain charm – a strange appeal – to be able to say “I’m from somewhere else.”  I know, because I am not from here.  I know something of the compulsion that draws people away from the place they were born – ad I know some of the difficulties involved with those choices.

If it were different…if the economy was better, and the government was more sensible and the car-works was still running, it wouldn’t have to be this way, would it?  People would stay, wouldn’t they?  Wouldn’t they…?

 

I believe that the answer is no.  People will always wander – have always wandered.  We are curious, we are ambitious, we need to challenge and be challenged, and so there has long been a certain amount of “let’s see what’s out there!” in our psyche.  A brief study of history demonstrates the truth in this – humankind refused to be bound by boundaries; we were not stopped by rivers, deserts or oceans.  If it could be climbed, we’ve climbed it; is it could be crossed, we’ve crossed it.  There is a relentless restlessness in us, and that is part of what makes Abram’s story so important for us.

 

Abram comes from a family of wanderers[1].  Terah and his family were living in Ur (modern Iraq).  Following the death of one of his son’s, Terah took his family to Haran (modern Turkey), where Terah died.  The plan was to go to Canaan – a mighty journey – and Abram may well have decided that Haran was far enough.  But Abram is given a vision.[2]

 

Abram is a pillar of faithfulness – and, we might argue – foolishness.

He hears the voice of God and chooses, not once but over and over again,

to live the life of ‘stranger in a strange land’.

For his faithfulness, he is given (eventually) a new name [Abraham]

and is lauded as the father of all faith.

 

But his quest – his vision – is important for us to understand.

Abram doesn’t simply strike out in search of a fortune…he is not led west by the promise of big money, or big adventure.  Abram is moved by something he doesn’t completely understand; the promise he follows is the promise of a future.  He places faith in this vision in a way that should instruct us in our urge to wander…

 

That God is concerned for us – that God may be invested in our future joy, or in establishing a legacy of faith through us  may seem hard to imagine, but our traditions – the stories of our faith tell us this is so.  From the very beginning of our Scriptures, through the gospels and the epistles, the message is clear.  God has taken an interest in humanity.  God wants us to claim hope and joy in these covenant promises, made not only to Abram, but through Jesus – Crucified and Risen.  Scripture is about God’s pursuit of us and also God’s urging us to move.

For sometimes we move to escape reality; other times, reality requires us to find new challenges. And the lesson in Abram’s story is this; God’s promises are real and just as persistent as our urge to see what lies over the horizon.

 

Faith does not require us to ignore opportunities to make a living; Abram by all accounts did very well for himself as he wandered west.  But in our current state of affairs, I believe faith can help us navigate the choices that are before us.  What promises prompt us to wander?  Are these the promises of society; of the here and now?  Or are we following a vision and voice whose desire for us is something wonderful?  I believe that God still calls us – every oine of us – to opportunities that we should not ignore.  But God’s voice must first be heard and recognized from among the noise that surrounds us – and that is what faith can do; faith tunes our ears to the voice of God – faith guides our feet on Jesus’ path – Faith can give us wisdom to choose what is best.  In a time of many choices – all seeming so good – Faith is what makes the difference between “job” and “career” – between “survival” and “contentment”

 

Faith is Abram’s legacy to us.  We stand in his tradition – a tradition that includes our Saviour – and we face the same challenges; do we follow our instinct for survival, or the call of our faithful God?  These are questions we must answer every day.  May we be guided by the faith of our ancestors, and the Spirit of Christ, whose Rising reveals the depth and breadth of God’s love for us.


[1] (Gen 11: 27-32)

[2] (Gen 12: 1-3)

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