March 5, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture—Genesis 12:5-7 (NRSV)
Abram took his wife Sarai and his brother’s son Lot, and all the possessions that they had gathered, and the persons whom they had acquired in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan. When they had come to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram, and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
When Abraham moved he found that God was present. The omnipresent God stood in front of every success and failure of Abraham’s family, and He still gave the promises of this land to him anyway—so that he might be a blessing to others also.
There was a lot of shuffling that occurred when Abraham and everyone with him had to uproot and move. But in that over 900-mile journey Abraham learned that God is not regional; where he leads us we can follow. And where we go, there will he be also.
Babushka dolls have always interested me. These intricate toys (some made as measuring cups) stack one on top of another. If you get one that is already assembled, it seems like a lovely bauble of sorts. But if you begin to investigate it you find that what you have received is a sort of John-like “one gracious gift after another” (John 1:16).
Abraham’s journey to Canaan is a pointed reminder that God’s continual presence is his character and not just a doctrine to be memorized. When you peel back the first gift there are gifts upon gifts. First, we find that God’s presence is not conceptual; he is in place and time. He told Abraham that this land would be for his people. Creation had groaned since the disruption in the garden but we see God reclaiming it. Archeologists and historians like Barry Beitzel remind us that God prepared the land for His chosen people with the same degree of care that He prepared His chosen people for the Promised Land. It was broken after the fall (Genesis 3:17), but everything was already beginning to wind back together.
Second, God says that this land will ultimately not be for Abraham but for his offspring. It will be for his people who have yet to come—children and grandchildren that he did not know; did not know their names. But Abraham and Sarah had generations of offspring thus making his name great (Genesis 12:2). When Abraham moved he found that God was present. The omnipresent God stood in front of every success and failure of Abraham’s family and He still gave the promises of this land to him anyway, so that he might be a blessing to others also.
What strange manner of love is this that God would call us children of God (1 John 3:1.) And when He is present with us we find that we are indeed his children. To others it may be unclear that we are, or they may only see one piece of this gift. But we should know that God’s involvement in the world is not to be toyed with. He makes us know his presence by his love.
Leaders recognize that sound of God wandering through the land doling out promises and gifts. He shows us gifts and bids us to peel back the layers to find more. We learn how our gifts are for others. He gives them to us knowing that we are prone to wander and squander them. We would hope for the resounding “show me your glory” type of experience like Moses (Exodus 33:18) or Abraham. But even if God does not manifest himself in a form we can see, we can know that if he leaves something for us we have read his signature. And if all things work together for good—even the worst circumstances—then there is good to be found if we only keep pulling back the layers.
What do you think your thoughts, actions and feelings would be if you heard God tell you that your descendants are going to be secure because of what he plans to do for you?
What are things that God has given you that you can pass on to others?
Take some time to pray and ask God for clarity about how your present place geographically, your position, and your privilege are used by God for the future.
God, I am grateful for your regular reminders that you are present and active in every part of my journey. Your gift of your present unfolds one gift after another and sustains me. You do not give up on your children, and for that we thank you. Help me to see how my place and position works for the good of today but quite possibly also for those who come tomorrow. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Abraham’s Faithfulness Contrasted with the Faithlessness of Babel (Genesis 12:1-3)
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DeLano J. Sheffield is the Business Resource Specialist for Goodwill of MoKan where he connects to people on the fringes, training them to reach their full potential through learning and the power of work; he also is on the frontlines of the advances of the fourth industrial revolution and coaches leaders on diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. He began his career as an architectural engineer then went on to attend seminary. In every part of his life he finds ways to infuse theology into vocation, and strengthen practical connections of faith and daily activity. DeLano lives in Kansas City, Missouri.