On the Way Without Knowing the Destination
“Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward."
(Genesis 15:1 NKJV)
I don't know about you, but I am amazed each time at the ease with which Abraham sets out on the path to the word of the Lord, leaving his land, his people, without knowing the destination, but having only believed in the promise: "I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2). In me the admiration for the son of Terah grows, who has no reaction. The biblical text is poor, perhaps deliberately: it does not say anything about the first of a man called to mark history, so that we do not consider ourselves too distant from what others will consider a hero of the faith. One thing is clear: Abraham knows God from what he says and does, and in obedient silence he sets out on a journey. The story of this journey will tell us how similar this man is to us. Periodic apparitions and words of the Eternal will be necessary to reassure him in the inexorable passage of time that that promise will be honored. Man needs to listen to that initial voice to dispel the specters of doubt that would appear periodically along the tiring wanderings. To be a nation and a people you need a land, and in the first apparition God shows the territory (Genesis 12:7). Abraham does not answer, he is always silent, because faith does not need to discuss, but he builds an altar and invokes his name, as if to ask for assistance and protection. In fact, immediately afterwards he resumes the journey.
In our wanderings a famine is always around the corner, reminding us that there are unexpected difficulties to face. And when they are not the result of contingent events, existential crises (those of the passing of time) will make us question everything and everyone, to trigger escape and surrender, change and repulsion in us. Our evolving hero seeks shelter in Egypt, despite the fact that the One who called him assured him of success. Difficulties cloud the spiritual vision, leading to the search for human solutions. At other times our conviction of discernment will presumptuously exclude any other alternative. After having "offered" his Sarah in wife to the Pharaoh, Abraham escaped the danger and made the journey backwards, finding the altar where he had invoked his God. Here he will have to deal with other problems, those generated between his shepherds and those of the nephew Lot: coexistence and sharing. The journey of life is a continuous confrontation with problems to be solved, while God seems to stand in a corner as a spectator, waiting for what happens, to then intervene as a voice outside the scene: "Now raise your eyes" (Genesis 13:14). How difficult it is to see the stars at certain times while the Word that challenges us has no effect on us. Yet you are aware that you cannot stop: "Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width”, because faith cannot remain motionless and inert.
The disagreement with Lot's shepherds is resolved with a separation, because the division is not always deleterious. Although on opposite paths, between the two there is no disinterest or disaffection. In fact, when his nephew is taken prisoner in Sodom, Abraham does not wait for divine indications, but leads a handful of men and goes to fight, meeting the blessing of Melchizedek, priest of the Most High God. It seems ironic at this point to reassure the Lord after the war: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward" (Genesis 15:1). Perhaps these words should have come sooner. So we think, when we demand a comforting presentation of God. Abraham, on the other hand, must learn to recognize that what he obtains and collects is always the fruit of the shield placed on him, even if he does not see and hear the Eternal. For us it is the same. Perhaps it is a time when you feel hit and downcast, you don't see and you don't hear, yet He is there to shield you. The events of Abraham encourage us not to consider the passage of time, otherwise he would not have reached ninety-nine years to hear the promise of a son repeated. This time, however, Abraham has other thoughts and God is forced to lead him out of the tent and tell him to look at the sky. How difficult it is to grasp what God has decreed for us. Therefore we ask for the same courage to set out without knowing the destination.
Weekly Bible Reading
Plan # 33 August 08, Psalms 74-76; Romans 9:16-33 August 09, Psalms 77-78; Romans 10 August 10, Psalms 79-80; Romans 11:1-18 August 11, Psalms 81-83; Romans 11:19-36 August 12, Psalms 84-86; Romans 12 August 13, Psalms 87-88; Romans 13 August 14, Psalms 89-90; Romans 14