The Lord said to Abram:
“Go from your country, your people and your father’s household 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 went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him (Genesis 12:1-4 ESV).
Living out a call to missions practically manifests itself in a life of intentional obedience. Obedience means putting the will of God above personal comfort and desires. Although not the easiest way to live, living life as God intended yields the best way to live.
I often return to the story of Abram when I am faced with a choice of obedience. I recently moved across the country to follow a calling from the Lord. As I loaded my car and exchanged goodbyes with family and friends, I found comfort in Abram’s story of prompt obedience. He too forsook all he knew for the promises of God.
We hear nothing of Abram until Genesis 11, but by Genesis 12, we see him packing up his family, ready to follow God’s call to leave home, armed with a promise of land, seed, and blessing. In Genesis 15, the LORD solidifies his covenant with Abram and, in one of the greatest expressions of faith, Scripture tells us “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (v. 6). By Genesis 17, Abram receives a new name—Abraham—a declaration of his new standing as the father of God’s people.
The story of Abraham shows us not only a need for the obedience but a picture of how God operates. God demands immediate obedience but does not guarantee an immediate return. Hebrews 11, speaking of faith giants such as Abraham, tells us “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth” (v. 13).
We do not obey because of the promise, we obey because of the One who promised. On my own journey, obeying the Lord and moving across the country did not result in everything coming together. The transition encompassed and still encompasses many uphill battles, stress, and mourning what and who I left behind. Like Abraham, I trudge into the unknown because I believe God called me to this, and he will come through because he decreed it.
The call of missions is a call of obedience, a call to go to the unknown. This may mean moving to a new place, a new career, or entering a new relationship. Whatever it looks like, entering will require obedience and sacrifice. Do not be a Jonah, who ended up in the belly of a fish before he decided to obey. Be an Abraham, venturing into the unknown, knowing you are led by the all-knowing God. Trust the One who sends you, wherever or whatever he sends you.
By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going… These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth (Hebrews 11:8, 13 ESV).