March 25, 2004

hear it in the stairwell: Howie Day

In the middle of it all, he leaves. He’s in the middle of a thriving culture, the middle of an extensive family and the middle of his father’s house. He’s in the middle of it all, and he leaves-never to return.

Abraham chose exile. Like a fugitive, he leaves the safety and identity of the past behind and follows a call to pilgrimge into the middle of nothing and nowhere, searching for the place that is beyond all.

Searching, searching, always searching. Abraham keeps searching for the perfect place. Nothing and nowhere else will do. The only place his weary limbs can rest is in that perfect place.

In the middle of his search, Issac appears like a kiss from heaven, bringing a smile to Abraham’s desert-cracked face. Yet once, again, in the middle of it all, Abraham is told to go. Before, he left behind his past; now he must leave behind his future.

On the sacred mountain, Abraham says goodbye to his inheritance and offers Issac to God. In the middle of the sacrifice, an angel stops him and offers a ram instead. Issac leaves, yet Abraham has already left.

He is searching, looking for his inheritance: the city of God. From time to time, he sees a faint glimpse of a glory that surpasses all glory. And this glory is enough to keep the search alive.

In the middle of his wandering life, he dies. His tired, aged body tumbles into a grave. And he enters the city of God through the gates called Beautiful.

Now Abraham cheers us on to pilgrimage. Yet often, we reject pilgrimage and instead look for heaven on earth. We have fewer dangers and enjoy more freedoms and luxuries than any people throughout history, and somehow, we think we deserve more.

So we look for perfect marriages, perfect friendships, perfect jobs and perfect churches. Yet none of these exist. We are not in heaven. Rather, we’ve been called to pilgrimage.

In the middle of it all, we are invited to leave. In the middle of our high paying jobs, in the middle of our comfortable homes, in the middle of our fractured families, we’re called to pilgrimage. We’re called to a city whose author and founder is God.

As exiles on this earth, we wander and wonder, receiving every breath as a gift from God. He is leading us through the land of letting go so that we might rest in the land of receiving.

Instead of worrying about the perfect life, welcome the call to journey- experiencing every imperfect moment on our way to God’s city.

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers–most of which are never even seen–don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

Matthew 6:30-34


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