Like Abraham experienced, going where God leads can mean leaving all you know. Perhaps even more difficult than that is something different. Something I don't think people think of or talk of often. Going where God leads you can often mean leaving the place where YOU are known. More traumatic than leaving familiar sites, stores or neighborhoods is leaving the people that know you. Leaving your network of friends and family.
In one of the most well-known stories in the book of Genesis, God says to Abraham, "Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father's family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you." ~Gen 12:1-3
If you're like me you may have read this in the past and keyed in on the good stuff. "I'll make you famous. I'll bless you. You'll be a blessing to others. Punish those who treat you badly and more!" Which makes sense considering these are some pretty amazing promises from God. But life has a way of helping you connect with Scripture and see it through different lenses as you experience new things.
A case in point is the adventure that Kaila and I have just set out on. Listening, trusting God's lead, united in how and what God is leading us to do. Which to be honest brings a great sense of peace and comfort. However, it has come with some unexpected factors. The kind of things that pop into your mind as fleeting thoughts before you're about to embark on an epic journey. But now those fleeting thoughts have grown into real-life experiences. For the first time in most of my adult life, I am truly traveling off into unknown territory. Yes, to places I've never been but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm traveling far off into places where I am unknown. I don't have my friends around the block, my go-to fishing buddies, my cigar-smoking friends, my church community, my home group, you get the idea. Transitioning from the very public role of a senior pastor and the face of a local non-profit to a life of relative anonymity was something I thought of but didn't really know how to prepare for. It's made me think of Abraham often. What was it like for him to leave his friends and family and network? How did he handle being unknown in new places?
Thankfully I have Abraham as a role model of sorts. A guide to learn from, good and bad, as I make a similar journey from know to unknown. I expect the months ahead will help me get a much better grasp on my identity in Christ apart from the ways others have identified me. I expect it will be a very healthy journey towards contentment being known by God and my wife. Learning to embrace that identity and walk in it. The truth is what I expect and what's to come may not come to pass. But I'm confident God is leading us. I'm content and grateful to be known by God. I'm blessed to have an amazing wife. Heck, I even have an amazing adventure dog, something I'm sure Abraham would have wanted if he saw him.
So it's with a mix of peace, contentment, joy, sadness, loneliness, worry, and excitement that the journey continues. Tuesday Kaila and I head out on a 5-day adventure-packed tour of the North Eastern shores of Lake Superior. Hiking, kayaking, exploring new places, and laying eyes on things I've never seen with every glance. God is good.