The Amazing Ambiguity of Abraham

Tim Ross

February 9, 2023
5 min read

God’s vision will always be bigger than anything we could ever dream up or accomplish on our own.

Tim Ross

Think back to the last time you walked through a transition. Maybe you were in between jobs or moving to a new city. Transition is a weird place to be — you’ve left the last thing but haven’t fully arrived in the next. The path is uncharted and the surroundings are unfamiliar. When we step into transition, we step into ambiguity.

As we walk with God, it doesn’t take long to learn that he often leads us into ambiguity, guiding us to take a step of faith before he tells us where we are going. We see this all throughout the Bible, particularly in Abraham’s story. Genesis 12:1-3 reads, “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘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.’”

We refer to Abraham as the father of our faith. This is true, but it’s easy for us to say because we know the whole story. Let’s put ourselves in Abraham’s shoes for a moment. He’s 75 years old and set in his ways, living where he’s always lived with the people he’s always known. Everything is business as usual until one day, seemingly out of nowhere, God called him to leave everything and everyone behind to go to a land that he will explain later. With no insight into where he was going, Abraham was instructed to leave: 

His kin: the community around him

His country: the geographical place that held everything familiar

His culture: the things that formed his identity

God’s vision will always be bigger than anything we could ever dream up or accomplish on our own. God didn’t want Abraham to simply be part of a country — he wanted to make him a new country. God didn’t want Abraham’s kin to only be the people around him — he wanted to give him descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. God didn’t want Abraham to be influenced by culture — he wanted to establish a new culture. But before Abraham could ever become the father of our faith, he had to take a step of faith and choose to walk into ambiguity. If we want to see God move in significant ways, we have to be willing to take a step before we see the full picture. 

When God calls us, we have the opportunity to respond with action. 

Did you know there’s a difference between leaving and going? I could tell you over and over again that I’m going to Europe, but I’m not actually going until I leave my house. We have to leave some things behind to go somewhere new. There are things that we cannot take with us into a new season — we often have to shed relationships, mindsets, and patterns that will hinder us as we follow God’s call. 

We see this in Abraham’s story. When he left his kin, country, and culture, his nephew Lot went along, too. The Bible tells us that Abraham’s herd was fighting with Lot’s herd, so the two men decided to part ways. Lot headed off to Sodom while Abraham continued toward his unknown destination. It was when Abraham left Lot that God began to tell Abraham what was ahead. Abraham started going, then he started knowing. God will tell us what’s next when we obey what he is telling us to do right now. 

To really apply faith means we have to step out into nothingness. With no context or familiarity, ambiguity can be disorienting and frustrating, leaving us with more questions than answers. But as scary as it is to take a step without knowing where our feet will land, we can embrace ambiguity when God leads us into it. The other side holds a revelation that’s better than anything we could ever imagine. 

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