And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the Lord. (Gen. 12: 7)
Abram was on a journey with an unknown destination and a promise: ” Go… and I will show you.”
And Abram went. He left. He sojourned. He fielded all the doubts and he walked the silent paths.
” 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.” (Gen. 13:2-5)
Abram was given a glimpse into his future. A future in a beautiful land with a little Abe running amuck at his feet.
But a promise is only as good as the promise-maker. And a promise that matters is never greater than the one who promised. So Abram memorialized his hope in an altar to the Giver of promises.
Then he kept traveling. He kept believing. He kept reminding himself, “My name is Abram, “exalted father” … I will believe.”
But roads get dusty. Feet and hearts get crusty. Sometimes you just have. to . hear. another. word.
So Abram traveled back to the place he knew he had heard the Lord. Back to the altar he had built as a way to remember. His Thanksgiving altar. His”On My Face, What An Amazing God You Are and I WILL remember” altar.
… and there, traveling back, he called again upon the name of the Lord.
It took Abram “exalted father” 24 years of sojourning to become Abraham “father of a great multitude.” That’s a lot of dust, and crust, and hard-earned lessons.
I look at our fast food culture and have to feel…we don’t have the first clue to what it means to be patient with God and with ourselves.
Along my 35 year journey of walking with Jesus, I’ve definitely built altars along the way. Figuratively and literally. There are some beaches in Tahoe and Yosemite and Zion where nothing seemed more fitting than rocks, un-tooled by man, built up toward a God in heaven that saw fit to reach down and hear me, comfort me, and answer me in my despair.
I need these altars. My soul’s Wailing Walls, the World War Jane Memorials, those Crossing the Red Sea realities that say, “God was here. He met me. And more importantly:
He will be here again.
I can sojourn on.
Father, your word is full of promises. Promises, like hidden treasures, waiting to be found and unwrapped and offered back to you on altars of thanksgiving. Thank you for these places you’ve met me, Lord, those places where nothing else made sense, except You and your word to me. Help me always remember these Life’s Road markers, and even more so as my memory tends to grow old and thin…Thanks.