We’ve already had a couple of postings on Sarah, the wife of Abraham and moved on from there to Rebecca, the wife of Isaac.
But as this week’s Torah reading will be the portion describing God’s call to Abram to leave his land and his father’s house to travel to the Land that God will show him, it occurred to me as I was reading the scriptures this morning that a re-visit to the tent of Abram and Sarai might prove fruitful. (Perhaps that’s the beauty of a blog – you can go back and forth without worrying about a logical sequence as you do in a book!)
Being human like us, did Abram, the giant of faith, experience any struggle in his effort to obey the voice of God? I think it’s safe to assume that he did. After all, he was not a robot; he was a flesh and blood man – with an enviable faith in the Almighty – but still a human who lived a time-space existence with all of its demands.
More specifically, did he grapple with the question: Is my decision to leave my native land, and my father’s house along with everything and everyone I know courageous? Or is it consummate recklessness?
Courage and recklessness are two sides of the same character trait. Courage is demonstrated when an individual, man or woman, chooses to undertake an extraordinary task or project that carries with it, inherent risks. Recklessness, by contrast, is described as taking action without considering the consequences. The concept of recklessness is often associated with irresponsibility and immaturity.
I like Ernest Hemingway’s definition of courage: he called it “grace under pressure”, which suggests the idea that in a difficult situation, a person makes a well thought out decision that results in the best possible outcome.
Abram knew he was called to world leadership; not in a political or military fashion but in the realm of spirituality. God had already told him, “..through you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” The outcome of Abram’s decision to follow God’s call meant that the world would come to learn that there is one true God, who loves His creation and is personally involved in the lives of His creatures. A reckless decision would have left Abram and Sarai comfortable in Haran but the rest of the world uncomfortably and tragically ignorant of the revelation of the one True God.
The calling was clear and the beginning of the path required a geographical re-positioning. The decision, however, was Abram’s.
Would he rise to the occasion and take that first step towards his destiny? He was called to be a light of Truth and according to God’s promise, thousands upon thousands would walk in his shadow. It was a daunting decision.
There had to have been the naysayers who labeled him ‘reckless’ and ‘foolish’ to leave his well established home and reputation in Haran to wander off into some illusive destination. Perhaps his own family members considered him ‘disturbed’. Wouldn’t yours?
The Scriptures do not detail for us the inward journey of Abram in leaving his homeland, only the outward one. But it doesn’t take a Bible sage’s prowess to understand what mental and emotional challenges Abram overcame to follow the call and will of God.
His glory is his Faith. When circumstances threaten to overwhelm us, it is in Faith that we find our peace and our strength.
Abram wasn’t reckless; he was courageous – and more than courageous. He was obedient to the Divine Call and because of it, innumerable thousands and hundred of thousands of individuals in every subsequent generation have been blessed with the knowledge of the one True God who is everlasting, compassionate, faithful, forgiving, just and merciful towards those who believe like Abram did and seek Him with all their heart.
One man – one decision – some five thousand years ago – and today you who read this and I who write it enjoy the benefits.
The power of one.
Selah….think about it. No further commentary needed.