Posts Tagged ‘contentment’

Genesis 13

1 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. 2 Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.
3 From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier 4 and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the LORD.

The voice of God can be a very elusive thing.  This voice which has been heard from mountaintop of Sinai, and rumbling like thunder on the road to Damascus has also been a whisper to a hiding man.  It has even been silent in a dark garden.

How do you perceive what God is speaking?  If I say that God is for me- if I say that he has a special purpose and design for me, my strengths, my life- why is it so hard to hear Him answer when I seek direction?

Yesterday’s reading had Abram, called by God to leave his home and all that he knows to follow him to a place He would show him.  It’s interesting to note a couple things here.

A bit about Abram’s background.  His father had 3 sons.  His father was actually of a mind to move from Ur (think southern Iraq) to Canaan (modern day Israel).  The scripture from yesterday mentions that one of Abram’s brothers died, leaving Dad (Terah; several generations descended from Shem, son of Noah) with Abram and brother.  Abram and brother marry, and Terah decides that it’s finally time to move on and begins the family’s move from Ur to Canaan.  This is a seriously long walk.


The text doesn’t say why Terah was motivated to move from Ur to Canaan.  But it does say that he never made it.  It says they set out for Canaan, but they stopped in Harran.  He stopped.  In Turkey.  It says they “settled” there and that’s where Terah died.  A few pages to the right, and God is telling Abram, Terah’s son to leave, and that he would be made into a great nation of peoples.  So Abram, like his father, decides to leave.

I wonder though; Maybe God had spoken also to Terah?  Maybe Terah had been on the same mission, but somehow, somewhere along the way he lost faith?  Lost sight?  Stopped hearing?  Got discouraged somehow?  But God perservered.  Across generations, God prevails.  He calls Abram to pickup this mission, to go to the right place so that the right things could happen in exactly the right way.

So Abram and Sarai, (and Lot) pull their tent stakes, and leave Harran, and set their gaze south, on Canaan, this far off land that Abram’s father spoke of, and this land that God was calling them towards.  In fact, he doesn’t just go to the edge of it and stop.  He walks all the way through the other side.

Maybe what he saw at first wasn’t good enough.  Maybe he wanted to see just how far this awesomeness could spread.  I don’t know.  It just says he traveled to the far edge of the land, and built an altar.  Maybe he just didn’t want to fall short like his father had.  So he made sure he traveled ALL the way there.  God lays out the welcome mat and says: “well?  here it is!  Whaddya think?”  And stops.  Puts down his stuff, builds an altar and worships the Lord.

But he didn’t stay.  Huh?

Nope, he pulls up his stakes again and starts to travel again.  To a better place for a herder.  So he stops there and builds another altar.  And he “called upon the name of the Lord.”  But guess what?

He didn’t stay.  Again.

This time he begins to travel across the desert, across the vast Saudi Arabian peninsula, towards the land of Egypt.

So his dad had the courage to leave home and begin the journey, but got comfortable halfway there and quit.  Now, Abram has the courage to finish the journey, but walks right past the welcome mat.  Twice.

So he ends up in Egypt, worried for his safety, scared of losing his wife.  Sounds pretty great, eh?  So he and she conspire, and begin to lie about who they are.  When Pharoah discovers all of this, guess what he does?  Turns their butts around and what?  Sends them back.

Hmm.  So what does God sound like again?

Maybe God doesn’t sound like comfort.  I know, that’s lame.  I don’t think comfort and obedience are exclusive- God had made Abram a wealthy man.  But he was still plagued by insecurity and discontent, wasn’t he?

It’s tough though.  I think I’ve often used my circumstances and the way the tides move to be the flesh on God’s hands in my life.  But maybe it takes more than perceiving the direction of the wind.  Maybe it takes something deeper.  God welcomed Abram home, yet the land was soon rocked with a famine.  I guess the promised land has it’s bad days too.

Maybe the contentment that is illumined by God’s hand and our obedience is satisfied by something more than simple comfort.  I must seek the whisper, rather than the thunder.  Abram did religious things, building altars everywhere he went.  He was obedient, mostly.  But it still seems like he missed some key points.

What does this say?  To me, I hear him saying not to cheat the depth of contentment by looking at comfort and confusing the two.  They are different, profoundly.  But if you need a 2nd chance?  Look no further than this God.  God laid it out for him.  God appeared to Abram.  More than once.  And he still messed up.  Yet he is Father Abraham!  His descendants outnumber the stars in the sky, and the sands on the shore.  God uses 2nd chance people.  It would appear God uses 3rd and 4th chance people too.

Why?  Because God is perfectly Holy.  He is infinitely merciful.  He also NEVER breaks a promise.  And he promised Eve and Adam in the Garden that he would make a way, send a savior, through her lineage.  Why?  Because he loves LIFE, and that is what he made all of this to be.  ALIVE.

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Mornings are a funny creature.  I really like mornings.  I really like being awake.  Oh, I’m not terribly fond of being awakened, but once we’re through that whole nasty bit, things smooth out quickly.  Provided there’s a cup of coffee (or 3)  nearby, a relatively dark spot, and total complete silence.  Other than those small details, I’d say I’m a pretty jolly Mr. Morning.

So… problem is, the Goldilocks (she’s our #3) wakes up before me.  And she should DEFINITELY not use the coffee maker.  And the other problem is she knows very little about total, complete silence.

Neither does #1 (“Tig” named for the bouncy feline from 100 acre wood), who given free reign would wake with elbows and knees rather than strokes and kisses.  “Fwack” (that would be #2) is much more docile in the morning.  Unless he’s hungry.  He’s the forgotten one, the proverbial “middle” child.  He’s a follower, so if there’s no real noise, he’s pretty quiet.  Being a follower though, he’s plenty ready to rumble if someone else (Tig) is too.

Character building begins early in the day at my house.  So I can only assume God’s blessing is on us.  I wouldn’t say it’s the sharpest tool in my pouch, but it’s the heaviest, most bludgeoniest.  The tool?  “Wait.  Just wait.”

Breakfast is a very popular meal at our house.  2nd most popular is “snack” which follows almost immediately.  Or you’d think it was supposed to, were I reading the same handbook.  We usually have anywhere from 2 to 5 containers of oatmeal on hand.  It heats up quick, adopts MANY flavors readily and for whatever reason, we all seem to like it pretty well.

Have you ever worked in a pancake house?  I did.  For a pretty good bit of time.  It seemed like forever.  Canadian pancake chain: Ricky’s.  Yeah, I’ve done it all.  That’s why I have a blog.  I was a bus boy in the place.  Ate my paycheck.  MMMMMmmmm…  I tell you though, people are fussy.  They want this and not that.  They’d like it here, but not there.  I gave that job up many years ago, but somedays start running for butter, jam, syrup, forks, and I wonder that I ever took off the apron.

Did I mention that I don’t take polyphony very well?

When I let it be known that breakfast time is finally, finally upon us, the room erupts.  Literally.  Crap get’s thrown, people fall down, and in general, as the famous American philosopher from the 1980’s, Peter Venkman once said when facing a crucial juncture in human history; “dogs and cats, living together, human sacrifice- MASS HYSTERIA!”

The orders pour in.  And being the level headed dad that I am, I set my coffee down, take out my pad, and write everything down to keep it all straight in my head.  Once that’s done, the kids all sit down at their spots around the table and wait for me.

Okay, that was a lie.

When God told Abraham that he would be the Father of nations, I bet that was pretty exciting.  Sarah thought the notion preposterous to the point of comedy, but she still dared to hope.  But God failed to deliver.  Or as it appeared to her He did.

When I was younger, I listened to music almost constantly.  Didn’t really matter what it was.  I used to have a little boom box that sat on my bed, right next to my pillow.  I would put a cd on “repeat all” and I’d turn it off in the morning.  Sometimes.  I remember the first time I did that with Nirvana’s “Nevermind” cd.  Don’t know if they still print it the same way, but my copy had a “hidden track” on it.  Go listen to that sometime, and then imagine yourself being sound asleep when that comes on.  Right next to your head.

I was convinced that I was going to be a musical superstar.  I don’t really know why.  I just did.  I thought it was divine appointment.

Do you remember what your dream was when you were little?  I do.  I remember looking through the TV screen at Slash’s Les Paul in the video for Welcome to the Jungle.  Formative moment.  Scary idea, eh?

Still waiting over here.

I realized this morning that waiting is never easy.  Doesn’t matter if it’s waiting for the moment a dream comes true or if it’s waiting for the oatmeal with the right color fruit preserves.  What if the bowl shows up at the table with cinnamon on it, instead of honey?  What then?  Do I shove it back?  I like cinnamon just fine.  But I asked for honey, thank you.  I’ve been waiting for honey.

No.  You’ve been waiting for breakfast.  Let’s keep our perspective here.

Abraham and Sarah couldn’t stand the waiting.  It was impossible!  And Ishmael was born.  And now we have metal detectors, body scanners, and RPGs, IEDs, and holidays that commemorate the very worst in humanity.

I’m no rockstar.  I’m no phenom.  I go to Leo Kottke concerts, and it’s easy a month before I even have the motivation to pick up a guitar again.  Shoot, I hear Chris Tomlin or Jim Cuddy sing and I just shake my head and wonder what was I ever thinking.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m looking a perfectly good bowl of oatmeal, topped with cherries, (instead of strawberries and chocolate chips).

Are you getting hungry?  What are you waiting for?  What have you been served?