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And know the place for the first time — Bobbi Baugh

Today’s Bible reading

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. – Genesis 12:1

More thoughts for meditation

When God called Abram out of his ancestral home it was as big a deal as many of us coming to Philly from Lancaster or Mexico or Africa. Many of us did not just change locations, we transitioned into a deeper representation of our true selves. All the hardship of moving, and relating to new people, failing and succeeding, helped make us who we are. Abram, whose name meant something like “exalted ancestor” when he began his adventure, got a new name after he arrived in the promised land: Abraham “ancestor of multitudes.” Ever since, people have been pondering their own sense of destiny and that new place they might end up with God as they consider Abraham’s transition.

There is something in us destined to meet God and move into love. We are not self-made. When Paul talks about Abraham in Galatians 3 and 4 he talks about the “seed” in us. Factually, he is talking about the multitude who are Abraham’s offspring, if they walk in faith like his. Metaphorically, he is talking about semen, the generative juice that mysteriously combines with an egg and causes more birth. Something in us yearns for God and responds to God’s call. “Deep calls to deep” even when it is hard to hear or we feel like we might be swept away by strong forces (Ps. 42).  Our connection bears the fruit of love.

In Matthew 22, Jesus tells the story of the generous but frustrated king who sends his servants to invite people to his son’s wedding banquet. But the invited guests just go about their normal pursuits. So the servants round up whoever is on the street. It appears that one person tries to get in because there is free food and is thrown out. The story answers the questions: “Why are so many invited and so few end up chosen?” And “Can I hope to be like Abraham? Do I have a destiny planted in me?”

The answer to the first question remains a troubling mystery. The answer the other questions is a simple, “Yes.” But, like Abraham, we will need to learn to listen, and we will have to go on quite a journey in order to cooperate with the invitation God is extending to us.

Suggestions for action

Pray: Encourage me on my journey today Lord. I long for the feast.

Joseph Campbell popularized a way to see the process of attending to our destiny by describing “the hero’s journey.” Christians immediately saw how well he had distilled the process described in the Old Testament and demonstrated by Jesus (not to mention all our spiritual ancestors). In brief, the story goes like this. The “hero” (you, in this case) 1. Begins with something of a spiritual amnesia, thinking their present circumstances are normative, unaware of their divine DNA. 2. Something calls them into an act of courage or adventure and they leave their comfort zone. 3. They are wounded. Their epiphany is that their wound is a key to a deeper world. They become larger. 4. They discover, beyond what they thought was normal and beyond the task that called them out, their real life, their soul life. 5. The return home and “know the place for the first time” (T.S. Eliot).

This exercise can help you see where you are on the journey. First, see which of these general life circumstances seems most important to you right now.

  1. Career/Vocation – Where are you in your cycle of satisfaction/achievement?
  2. Immediate family/community – How is your relationship with your spouse? How are the children progressing. Are you in a new cycle with aging parents? How are your friendships? What is the state of your covenant with the church and your place in the community?
  3. Spiritual experience – Where is the next adventure? Are you plateaued? Are you starting out, wounded, finding a new place to rest?
  4. Health – Have you or family members had to deal with major illness? Are your recovering? Are you addicted?

Choose one of the areas (or your own, of course) and see if these questions about the “ journey” help you get anywhere. Any one of them or all of them might speak to where you are right now.

  • Is there a call to “adventure” in this area?
  • On the threshold of change, how do you feel equipped, how do you feel ill-equipped?
  • Do you have a vision of where you are headed, even if the steps seem unclear?
  • What is testing your vision: people who are difficult, problem circumstances that are not solved?
  • Who or what might become helpers in the adventure?
  • What is your image of fulfilling your destiny through this adventure? Be as specific as possible.
  • How do you imagine “returning” to your homeplace and loved ones as a deeper person?
  • How do you envision sharing what you have been given?