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.” Genesis 12:1-3
In my last post I indicated that I would be spending time on the topic of hearing, really hearing, God and that it would span several articles. My opening premise was that the primary reason we do not hear God is that we are too busy sifting and twisting His Word to make it say what we want it to say that we do not hear what He is actually saying. I stated that there are oft-repeated themes in the Word and that essential to tuning our ears correctly is to focus on those themes rather than the bits and pieces that support what we want to focus on.
The first oft-repeated theme of God’s Word is LEAVE. I started with Abram’s charge because he is the father of all the faithful and leaving was his first instruction. In his situation, leave meant relocate. He was called to relocate from Haran to an as-yet-unnamed destination. Included in that was also the requirement to leave behind his extended family and community.
But Abram was not unique among God’s people to hear the call to leave. Moses was told to relocate from Midian and return to Egypt where he was instructed to assume a whole new occupation, that of leader and liberator. His charge to leave was to relocate and repurpose, to leave what he had been doing (shepherding) and do something different. Peter was called to repurpose, to leave off being a fisher of fish to become a fisher of men. Saul of Tarsus was repurposed from persecutor of followers of the Way to Paul, the preacher of the Way. In fact, if you’re paying attention to this theme, you’ll notice that many of God’s people were called to relocate or repurpose.
The most repeated call to leave, however, comes as the call to repent. To repent means ‘to think again after, the fact, in order to choose a new course’. All are called to repent. We are called to leave our sins, our ways, our values, our thought patterns, in order to choose His ways, values and patterns. On this definition, the call to leave goes out to all. Do we have ears to hear?
Lest you reject what I have just said with the ‘Yah, but…’ about God’s value of faithfulness, let me reassure you that these are not mutually exclusive concepts. The problem is that God calls us to be faithful to Him and His purposes and we sometimes cleave to people and purposes that do not flow from Him and want faithfulness credit. If we will listen to what He says, He will tell us when to stay and when to leave. If the call is to leave and we choose to stay instead, we are not being faithful!
Has God been telling you to leave? There is no question that He has called you to repent. Are you listening? Has He called you to relocate or repurpose, but been ignored because it doesn’t fit your agenda? I have been called to leave many times. Sometimes I’ve been instructed to relocate when I was eager and enthusiastic to go. But there have been a few relocations that, had it not been the voice of the Lord telling me to leave, I never would have budged. I have been repurposed many times, sometimes with a sense of promotion and sometimes with a sense of loss, but as it was the Word of the Lord, I chose to call it good. I hear His voice telling me to repent constantly because, even when I leave one issue of sin behind, He points at another that He wants to free me from. Leaving is a continuous theme of His Word and I want to hear and retain it, so I persevere in order to produce the crop He desires.
The voice of God goes out into all the earth and He tells us to leave. I encourage you to spend some time fine-tuning your ears by listening to what He has to say to you about leaving.