And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. Genesis 46:2-3
God fathers each child differently. His path is a solitary one and my journey will never be identical to that of my family. If my parents were iconic in their faith, the expectations for me to follow in their footsteps will be strong but also impossible to attain. I am not either of my parents nor should I try to be.
Isaac, Jacob’s father, was told by God to avoid Egypt during his time of famine. Egypt was off limits. But God’s plan for Jacob was different. In his time of famine, Egypt was the place he was brought to settle. Doing something different from his father had to feel confusing.
God stretched me out of my family’s mold sometime in my mid-forties. My views of some peripheral biblical issues differed from that of my father and the legalistic church I was raised in. There were some tense discussions, and his disapproval created a shadow over our relationship. Before he died, God moved us on to the same page through some ‘end of life’ experiences. What a gift that was.
To complicate matters, I married young into a well-known Christian family. My father-in-law was a famous evangelist. Things were harmonious throughout the early years of our marriage because both Ron and I held to his father’s views on most every biblical issue. Eventually though, God began to take us on the journey He had planned for us. It meant leaving home and the ministry his father started. Though we still agreed on the tenets of the Gospel, our interpretations of some secondary issues of grace didn’t match. At times, we felt like outsiders, but God used isolation to bind us to Him. We learned to hear and obey His voice above all others.
God’s message to each of us today is clear. We are His children first and then members of our earthly family. Egypt may be denied to our fathers but permissible for us. God is a kind Father who leads deliberately, often giving His child the courage to take steps away from the ‘family’s way of doing things’. The fallout can make any of us second-guess our new direction, but God gives grace along with the call to go where He sends us. His voice is wild and wonderful; his ways are peculiar and solitary. Any price we pay is long compensated by the joy of hearing God say, “Well done!”
My heart begs to be shaped by You, and by no one else. Amen