[Stephen replied:] “The God of glory appeared to our ancestor Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Leave your country and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you.’ Then he left the country of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After his father died, God had him move from there to this country in which you are now living.”
— Acts 7:1-4 (NRSV)
In the passage above, Stephen opens his prophetic sermon with the sojourn of Abraham. Because we know the end of Abraham’s story, it is easy to gloss over the fact that Abraham almost didn’t make it to the Promised Land. As Stephen states, Abraham “settled” in Haran, about halfway between Ur (modern-day Iraq) and Israel. According to Genesis 12, it took a renewed and direct call from God to move Abraham from his comfort zone.
As we enter the midpoint of the calendar year, this is a good opportunity to evaluate our own comfort zones. Are there ways in which we have stopped short of fulfilling God’s gospel call? Have we settled for a waypoint rather than fully making room for the reign of God to flourish?
Jesus asks those who follow him to risk living beyond the borders of comfort and familiarity — the settled — and to follow him into whatever and among whoever may lie ahead; for, as Jesus said, “No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day” (Luke 9:62, MSG).
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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