Go to the land I will show you.
Maryhill State Park, Goldendale, Washington.
We spent yesterday afternoon and evening with Linda’s family, first with her parents in Keizer, Oregon and then later in the afternoon with the rest of her family in Albany where Linda’s sister lives. We celebrated Linda’s birthday, a little early, enjoyed some catching up, said our goodbyes and returned to the “fiver” about 11pm.
We had a “take it easy” morning and then headed to Portland and I-84 for a short drive east to Maryhill State Park. This park is right on the Columbia River across the bridge from Biggs, Oregon. Over the hill is Goldendale, Washington, so for a couple of nights we were out of state, but we are now back in Washington for a couple of days.
I was drawn in my reading this morning to Genesis 12. Read it and I think you will know why I was drawn there: The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” There are 3 “leavings” in this story I want to highlight.
I mentioned yesterday I lived in Mason County 3 times longer then I have lived anywhere else, so in many ways it was my home. Linda is more rooted in the area where we were last night, the Willamette Valley, where her family has farmed for more then a hundred years, but I had put down my deepest roots in Mason County, Washington and yet I repeatedly have heard the Father say “leave your country…and go…” So the first leaving is the leaving of a place.
But there is also a second leaving, the leaving of “your people”. Not only have we left the people who are our flesh and blood, as we leave Brad and his family behind in Gig Harbor, but we are leaving our spiritual family too. Our people, people like: Doug, Jeanee, Bill, Leslee, Harris, Jean, Mike, Maggie, Carol, Shannon, Jim, Phil, Colby, Jill, Rachel, Royal, Jordan, Mark, Marlene, Jon and Joann, Dennis, Diane and the list literally could fill up this post. These are our people. They are the one’s who have guarded and protected our souls, made us laugh, cried with us and more than anything, helped us to keep on believing. These and many more are our people and we are leaving them “to go to the land I will show you”. The second leaving is a leaving of a people.
There is one more leaving and it is the leaving of “your father’s household…” I wasn’t sure what the Spirit was speaking into me this morning as I read this phrase. The first two “leavings” are fairly easy to see but I wasn’t sure what He wanted me to hear with this third “leaving”.
As we were driving down the Columbia Gorge I began to understand that to leave our father’s household was to leave the Church in Mason County. For better or worse I built into the Spiritual community of Mason County for more than 18 years. I learned to preach and pastor there, I preached the word of God at least a 1000 times into the Shelton and surrounding community, I performed over 120 weddings, buried dozens of people, some who were close and many I didn’t even know and I met with 100′s of people to talk about the Father’s will and how we might all stay better in step with the Spirit. I had been part of the Father’s household in Mason County for more than 18 years, an integral part, in fact.
This morning I understood that the call ”to leave your father’s household and to go to the land I will show you”, was a call to leave the work the Spirit had called me to, a work I was comfortable doing and a work God’s hand was on in so many powerful ways.
For months I had fought the call to leave and go. I wanted to stay and see what was broken, healed and what was lost, recovered. But the call to leave the “Father’s household and go to a land I will show you” was a call to leave the Spiritual family in Mason County and follow the Father to a new Land.
In many ways, this third leaving is the hardest one, for some reasons that are obvious and many that are probably not understand by most of you. The third leaving is a leaving of a parish, a community of faith in which I was a spiritual Father.
But Abraham did not leave his country, his people or his Father’s household without a promise and a blessing (read it in Genesis 12:2-3) and it is that promise and blessing I claim for myself as we go to the land He will show us.
I believe our promise, yours and mine is the promise of a restoration greater than what was left behind and a blessing far beyond any we have ever known before.
And so we leave to go to the land He will show us.