Out of Exile: Day Six – I Didn’t See This Coming

On Day Five I gave a brief overview of the many exile stories in the Bible.  Today I want to look at one story in particular: Abram. I think anyone who has ever been called of God can relate to Abram’s calling:

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Called to Exile

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. “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.” So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran.  He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. Genesis 12:1-5

It’s interesting, in retrospect, to see what I focused on when I sensed God call me into ministry. I focused on the words “great” and “blessed.” I didn’t think much about the cost of leaving what was familiar to me. I didn’t think much about “being 75,” that is, my limitations. And I didn’t think much about the “Lot’s” in my life (unhealthy people) who would go with me. 

When there’s a famine in the land, you doubt your call or you doubt God’s goodness, or both. 

I focused on verse two: 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 bet that’s what Abram heard too. He was convinced that Canaan would be amazing. Sarah probably wasn’t so sure, but Abram was sure she’d come around once she saw what a great place it was.

In Canaan, Abram was going to establish God’s kingdom. In Canaan, he was going to be the GUY. God’s guy. He was going to call the shots and make things happen in a way that he never could as long as he was under his dad’s oversight back in Haran. Canaan was definitely the land of promise! Abram couldn’t get there fast enough

Did you respond to God’s call that way? All you saw was the glory?  But what did Abram find in Canaan?

At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Genesis 12:6

Wait a minute. Canaanites? God never said anything about Canaanites. God never told me that I’d have elders that disagreed with me or worse, undermine me. God never told me that I’d have people complain when new people came to the church and upset the balance of power. I thought God would send me to people that loved Jesus.

But that’s not all. There’s more. Or I should say, less:

Now there was a famine in the land…   Genesis 12:10

A famine? If God called me, how could there be a famine? I thought God would take care of my needs. I shouldn’t have to take a second job. I thought this would include a good health insurance plan. I thought I’d be able to afford a vacation.  

And then come the doubts: Maybe I didn’t hear God. Maybe that was just youthful ambition. Maybe that was zeal without knowledge…or bad onions for supper last night. I’m not so sure of what I’m doing. 

When there’s a famine in the land, you doubt your call or you doubt God’s goodness, or both.

There are many losses associated with the call of God. That’s not bad. But you need to name them, assess the loss , and grieve it; otherwise you will bury the pain of loss and it will rot and smell and undermine your life and ministry.

More on Abram on Day Seven. Subscribe to the blog to join the journey.

What did you expect in ministry that never materialized for you?  Share it below. Go ahead. Be honest. I bet others can relate.

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5 thoughts on “Out of Exile: Day Six – I Didn’t See This Coming

  1. Anonymous

    Wow, God is amazing in the the way He drops things into your path, we were discussing this very thing this afternoon and as always God has show/ confirmed that we are on the right path and that we are not alone in how we are feeling and what we are walking through.

    1. F. Remy Diederich Post author

      Glad you found this. One of my upcoming posts will be about how God is faithful to bring encouraging voices into your life while in exile, even if through books, etc. We have to develop ears to hear these voices and see the people God has for us.

  2. Lisa

    I read this post several times today. Definitely can relate to Abram’s call. There were some losses I was happy to experience as we packed to leave for our “country”. For example, the mini gods that needed addressing. I found books (that represented knowledge to me) had me a little puffed up. Could I function with out them? I learned yes, Gave them all up except for our Bibles. I also learned that what I could give up, God could easily replace. I have since given up 4 sets of libraries with several moves and they keep finding me. Perhaps I have learned to be content with less. Another mini-god was good health facilities and decent doctors. At the time we had 2 little ones ages 4 & 1. This was huge for me, but I finally had to draw strength from Mary’s example of faith who traveled in her midnight exile into Egypt with a youngin’ across the sandy sea of the desert! Brave-mama faith stuff trusting the Lord with the wellness of your family! It felt huge at the time but in reflection it’s kinda of nothing now. Those minigods were crutches that I was happy to cast aside for the greater purpose. The losses revealed a budding faith in God and a God that doesn’t disappoint.

    In leaving the country, there was the loss of security, familiarity, maybe even a certain predictability, loss of privacy and becoming the target. Those were like speed bumps in the journey. The more difficult losses were the common heart language that I was fluent in and the “people”. Losing the support network and the people you had grown to trust was difficult as a woman. God had to show me he could supply all my needs even in friends. He gave us wonderful neighbors. Those losses made me feel homesick but it wasn’t unbearable. I think the most hurtful losses were those visions of grandeur like you mentioned. Where we saw the glory and not the famine. Those expectations we thought were realistic, were in time revealed to be outrageously idealistic. What I thought was going to be our dream job became my worst nightmare. How did that happen?

    Yes, then doubt made a visit. Was it self ambition or a call from God? Lines felt blurry as the challenges mounted. It felt confusing when the canaanites treated us better than our own brethren. The ones that we thought had our back were walking away like Joseph’s brothers. Disillusionment with the leadership and we realized we were mismatched. And then I realize within myself, I had limitations to all this “maddness”. I stopped singing, the song “Anywhere with Jesus” I just wouldn’t sing it. I was mourning the dream that had died.

    I never realized how much was being laid bare in the process of the calling, but it sure is more palatable in hindsight rather than in the midst of the stripping. I’m convinced it takes the guidance of the Holy Spirit to embrace the exile experience in a godly way, making one better and not bitter. I am enjoying your insights. and fresh perspective on exile(s).

    1. F. Remy Diederich Post author

      From dream to worst nightmare. Isn’t that interesting? I’ve used the same phrase to describe my life. One of the biggest gifts of exile is that it’s a huge reality check. I feel like exile helped tie my thinking to the real world. I no longer inflate my expectations like I used to and often help warn others of potential cliff jumping decisions. And yes, the stripping is always much more painful in the moment. In retrospect, you often wonder what the big deal was. But at the time, it’s huge. I suppose pre-exile people might read this series and think it’s a downer…a kill joy. But for people like us, who have encountered it…we are now members of the post-exile club. We’ve shared in the fellowship of suffering and hopefully, see it as a blessing…a release into a new life.

  3. Pingback: Out of Exile: Day Seven - Embracing Your Dark Side - F. Remy Diederich

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