© 2019 Lynn Abbott
One of my all-time favorite literary lines was penned by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Tolkien’s memorable character Frodo Baggins quotes his uncle Bilbo: “‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,’ he used to say. ‘You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.'”
Certainly, my life journey has taken me a great many places I never anticipated. Like Bilbo, I’ve had a few unexpected journeys… although I’ve obviously never met an elf or fought a literal dragon.
Of course, when I was a collegian, I had my life’s itinerary mapped out.
My own happy hobbit life would follow a predictable pattern. I settled on a major, and dreamed of my career path. I plotted my financials.
I had things well planned. I had calculated everything… included all the important variables in the equation.
However, I did not bank on the power of my infinite God to change my course.
Abba apparently is not only in the business of creating but also of rearranging.
Evidently, I learn best on the road.
Yet, even though I know all of this, when Abba called this past Autumn, I nevertheless questioned (like Gideon of old) before I obeyed. After all, I am much more comfortable at home with a cup of tea in hand and tapping out my next blog post at my computer keyboard than I am on the road.
Yet, in my heart of hearts, I recognized Abba’s voice, and I knew without a doubt that He again beckoned me to emerge from my comfy hobbit hole.
In fact, I’m sure He grinned as He gave me a gentle push out the door.
That’s right. Hobbits don’t generally like adventures. And I am no exception to that rule.
But one simply doesn’t say “no” to our Sovereign Savior. I know because I’ve studied the book of Jonah. Obviously, he learned the hard way.
So, I left a note for all of you here, and out the door I went. Indeed, I have not yet returned “home.” I find the road still rises to meet me; another grand quest has begun…
And I will most assuredly face danger and experience a good many personal “fails”.
That’s right. I sometimes waffle a bit in my obedience.
If success doesn’t seem imminent and Abba appears quiet, I look for the first turn-off and opportunity to run back to my hobbit hole.
I did not bank on the power of my infinite God to change my course.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. After all, stepping out means leaving all things predictable.
God often calls you and me to exchange fireside fellowship for steep climbs and foggy valleys. And to be quite frank, I’m not a fan of either the difficult or the uncertain.
And that is more and more the case, the older I become.
I think, perhaps, that Sarai must have felt as I do. I often wonder what kind of response she gave Abram when he announced that God, little known to her at the outset, had called them to a country she had never heard of.
Did she roll her eyes and say, “Oy vey, there he goes again… That crazy husband of mine with his outlandish imagination is chasing dreams once more”?
Nevertheless, despite any misgivings she may have had, Sarai packed their bags, and together, they hit the road: Canaan or bust.
I’m sure the expedition seemed endless. She may have wondered if they would ever reach their destination, if they would ever settle. At the very least, they both probably longed for the comforts of Ur.
After all, nomadic life had its ups and a great many downs.
As did their faith. Their quest repeatedly tested their convictions. Yup, even the great father of faith waffled. Regularly.
Actually, Abram’s tendency to second-guess really should come as no surprise. His ability to see the future was as limited as any other human being living before or after him.
Certainly, our faith’s itinerary doesn’t follow a simple thoroughfare. The inevitable bends in the road require steadfast trust.
Evidently, I learn best on the road.
Abba hasn’t told me the details of my adventure. He has simply asked me to realign my priorities… to allot more time for pursuing my art. But that has meant less time for other things.
Seems like that would be easy for an artist, right? But when I confront obstacles or when the terrain becomes difficult, I start to second-guess the road taken.
I wish to embrace my own plan “B.” I wish to reconstruct my comfort zone.
Apparently, Abraham and Sarah did the same. In spite of God’s promise that Abram’s descendants would become a “great nation,” Abraham and Sarah decided to play it safe. They’d help God out a little.
After all, they had waited a long time for the promise. And God hadn’t given them any assurances for some time. Sarah likely began second-guessing.
I get that.
Who can forget their Ishmael project? Or the disastrous results of that detour?
And Abraham and Sarah ran ahead of Abba. The hero of faith entertained doubt. Like so many of us, he had his ups, downs and roundabouts.
I, too, get caught on the ‘go-round of fear and doubt. As a result, I replay my errors again and again…”Same song, second verse…a little louder and a little worse.”
Abraham, however, gives me hope. Abba gave him supreme grace. Hebrews 11 does not list a one of Abraham’s failures.
Instead, we read of Abraham’s faith and obedience.
But one simply doesn’t say “no” to our Sovereign Savior.
Abraham obeyed and went to Canaan.
He made his home in the promised land.
He trusted God’s promise of an heir.
He entrusted his only son to Abba.
He believed God could raise Isaac from the dead.
Yet, the Genesis account reveals that Abraham and Sarah wasted a lot of time and energy trying to figure the journey out for themselves.
Abraham faltered and connived.
And Abraham sullied his pilgrimage.
Sarah even laughed when God promised a child… After all, at 90+, she knew was a bit old for that journey.
And as an alien in the land, Abraham frequently leaned on his own understanding.
Abraham and Sarah wasted a lot of time and energy trying to figure the journey out for themselves.
He may have blamed himself for being a “poor example” of faith. Lot had observed Uncle Abram’s schemes. And Lot had played it safe, choosing the financially secure path offered by living in the big city, Sodom.
It’s easy to self-condemn.
But Hebrews 11 tells another story. Abba looks at His child with love and grace. He honored Abraham’s faith.
“As far as the east is from the west, so far He removed our transgressions from us,” the Psalmist wrote, (Psalm 103:12).
Abraham’s failures met forgiveness by grace and through faith.
Of course, Abba always knows what awaits us around the next bend. And He gently and graciously leads us to a deeper and deeper faith walk.
I doubt I’ll ever be a hero like Abraham or even Bilbo.
But I relate to Abraham’s journey. I struggle at times with a journey to a yet unrealized promise.
God gently and graciously leads us to a deeper and deeper faith walk.
I’m thankful, though, that my omniscient, heavenly Father gives me enough light to make the next step.
Without a doubt, there are days when the journey seems too much for you and me. Sometimes, the road sweeps us off our feet.
But Abraham’s life story brings this comfort: God’s covenant with you and me never fails. He never forgets His promises. He remains our constant in a world of unpredictable.
Without a doubt, faith grows on the road.
“I am the LORD you God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go,” Isaiah 48:17b
Note: Yes, I have returned to blogging…but on a more part-time basis than in the past. I’m still traveling a lot…despite my frequent wish to return to my hobbit hole. And so, I will post and, more importantly, visit you–my wonderful friends–as often as I have opportunity. I’m so grateful for you all! And so, I will continue to send you “postcards” from my journey when I am able…Now, I’m off to conquer some “dragons” of my own. Ha!