Friday, February 26, 2010

hiatus/ abram

How much do I love the story of Abram/Abraham? So much that it's my love for this story, as much as, or more than, my mild-to-moderate OCD, that brings me back to Genesis 12 after about 6 weeks.

The thing that I love most about 12:1-12:3 is the how specific -- and, simultaneously, how unspecified -- it is. It's not that the plan is not there; it's just that Abram is on a need-to-know basis. Only the first, less amazing, part of the promise is open to him: I will make of you a great nation, yes, but also: I will bless you. Here is the real heart of what God promises, I think, and Abram isn't yet able to understand that and gets sidelined by the much-smaller, more attainable Part A. Because what matters more is what God doesn't entirely go into here -- or what He says, understanding that we won't really get it just yet. I will make you larger than your own life, your own expectations. I will show you where to go.

I'm only beginning to get how the human-blessing of Being a Great Nation really serves as an appetizer for the main course of being part of God's work. You'll be a great nation, but you, Abram, will also be part of My team, of what I do. The amazing transformation of Abram and Sarai is this leap from having such a clear sense of what you think God wants, to allowing that God will transform you into what He wants -- that He will determine what it means to be blessed. It's the process of loving God and wanting to be great, to wanting to be what God wants you to be, because that is what being great has come to mean.

I think, all the time -- although still! less often than the all the time I thought this, before -- I think: This is what God wants for me. God wants ME to leave everyone and go be a missionary; He wants ME to be an MD/PhD, He wants me to [insert personal ambition here]... and I have to remember, each day, that what I believe God wants, is for me to grow close enough to Him that I will just do what He asks of me, today, and listen for what He wants next. That my desire is not to invite God into my life plan, but to offer up my life to God so that I can have the privilege of being part of His plan.

The seduction of the alter-call narrative of faith, of the self-help, Gospel-of-prosperity, Prayer-of-Jabez kind of story, is this: a lot of the time, I want to make this commitment that will absolve me of having to stay close to God, to keep listening. I want a transformation that will Take Care of It for me. But when I am brought closer to God, I kind of get that what that kind of transformation does, is keep me wanting to listen for God, always, every day, because I don't want to miss what He wants from me. And I have come to think that He asks us to do His work in the first place as a means to this particular end -- because through learning to really attend to Him so we don't miss anything, we become close to Him. I believe that God gives us work to do because through striving to determine and then carry out this work, we can learn each day how totally we depend on Him. That closeness -- not what we accomplish through Him -- is the purpose of our involvement in His plan.

It's hard, and I don't always get it. But the beautiful thing about Abram/Abraham is: neither did he. And the next several chapters really speak to how this call is just one moment in this 100-plus-year journey called Abram-thinks-he's-figured-it-out-oh-wait. Which is not unlike my own experience of God and His will; which is why this may yet become "A Brooklyn Lady Blogs... Genesis."