“God told Abram: ‘Leave your country, your family, and your father’s home for a land that I will show you.’” (Genesis 12:1, The Message)
Many years ago I was working in my home office when I noticed the dog trotting up the street. And then down the street. And then up the street. Looking from one side to the other. Always staying in my portion of the block.
I could almost hear him thinking, “I know it’s around here somewhere.”
I stepped outside and called to him. Without hesitation he came dashing over to me, tail wagging. Without a word, he curled up gratefully on my welcome mat.
It didn’t take me long to find his home. He was a rescue, newly adopted by my next door neighbor. He’d gotten out but didn’t yet recognize his new home.
Joan Chittester writes that in order to have creativity we must first have confusion. We must have the confusion of the old structures no longer standing, no longer serving their purpose. Like Abram, we must leave the home of all that is familiar in order to receive God’s promise of all that is being made new.
The structures and beliefs that once served us may have brought huge blessings to our lives. I grew up as a Southern Baptist. Although now I don’t claim them (and they sure wouldn’t claim me), I recognize that I received many blessings from that structure (not the least of which was a top notch seminary education that cost next to nothing.) Over time, however, they changed and my beliefs changed and we no longer fit together. I can bless what was without having to cling to it.
Lest our structures – and even our beliefs – become our idols we must be willing to let go of what was and what no longer serves.
Sometimes Christians get nervous when they hear someone talking about changing their beliefs. The person in question is branded as less than faithful and possibly heretical. But it is more heretical to make a god of our beliefs and to forget that we always know in part. This much that we know now – it may be exactly the faith we need at this time in our lives. But God always calls us forward. Sometimes that means traveling to a new place in our lives. Sometimes that means traveling to a new place in our hearts and souls… and minds.
We don’t embrace change for the sake of change. We (sometimes grudgingly) face change because God is not done with us. We have to endure the confusion of not being certain in order to allow the space for Spirit to do her creative work.
In the meantime, however, we can feel like my canine friend. The old home is no longer here. But we don’t recognize the new one yet. We dash from one end of the block to the other, hoping to hear Someone call our name.
The testimony of faith isn’t that we never leave one place for another. Just ask Abraham and Sarah about that. The testimony is that we never journey alone. God always goes ahead, preparing a place for us.