Genesis 17:1-27, Genesis 18:1-15, Hebrews 11:8
God is not a God of coincidences. He is not a God of chance—one who rolls the dice, takes a gamble, or who is ever even pleasantly surprised by an outcome. He always knows and always times and has always planned.
I reminded myself of this when the assignment for this devotional came across my email today, and the scripture read:
“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance.”
Six months ago, a day after our wedding, we moved to a city farther west than either my husband or I had ever lived. And today—six months later, almost to the day—we began our morning looking through real estate and job listings back on our home coast. We didn’t plan on this; we bought our house planning to be here, planning to work and grow old in this city. But God doesn’t submit to our plan, we’re learning, and the loss of my husband’s job three months ago made that clear.
We all love the afterglow of a miracle—the job we never expected, the house we loved on the spot, the small graces and big changes. We love to talk about how God provided and blessed and brought and showed. But few of us talk about the fear, the angst, the trepidation we brought to the prelude.
My husband furrowed his brow this morning and listed out his fears, and I listed mine. We compared lists. At least one of us was near tears: it wasn’t supposed to be like this. We had a plan; this wasn’t it.
By faith: Without sight, without a plan, without the surety of a miracle, Abraham went.
Abraham obeyed: He listened, he heard, and he obeyed.
When he was called: He was a man bent to hearing God, always piqued by God’s voice, God’s care, God’s Word. He knew he was called because he knew the sound of the One calling.
To go out to a place: To leave the comfortable, the known, and the planned. He went further out, not further in.
That he was to receive: Meaning, he had not yet received it. The promise was there, but the inheritance was not.
An inheritance: Something has to die in order for an inheritance to come.
And he went out, not knowing where he was going: Without sight, without a plan, without a surety of anything except that God would go with him and there would be an inheritance—he went out.
God is a God of providence and planning, and this verse came across my desk on a week when I need both. He is provident, providing in the right moment. He plans, making a way where the path seems unclear. Our only call is to hear and to obey. Whether to stay or to go, to take the job or leave it, to buy the house or sell it, to marry the person or not, to write the letter or not, to make the phone call or not, to leave the church or to stay. He makes the way.
Like Abraham, we balk at the impossibilities (Genesis 17:17). Like Sarah, we laugh at the promise (Genesis 18:12). And even still, God makes a way. He has already made the way.
A friend of mine used to say faith isn’t faith if you can see where you’re going—and that sounds better than it feels. Blindness in the midst of decision-making seems the antithesis of good planning. How do you know what to do? Where to go? Who to be? What to buy? To behold, to see, and to know God are the pinnacle of the Christian’s pursuit—how do we hold faith and sight in the same hand?
I think of Abraham today—the land he could not see, the inheritance he could not hold, and the stalwart hope he had in God. This is the faith we ask for: to be so blinded by the light of our Father that we trust His voice, His call, His Word, and His plan more than we could ever trust our own.
Lore Wilbert is the Director of Community and Formation at Park Church, Denver, and writer at Sayable.net. Find her on twitter @lorewilbert.