End Of The Line

 In Character, Community, Culture, Duty, Faith, Family, Fred's Blog, Identity, People, Relationships, Scripture, Story, Teaching, Theology, Transitions, Uncategorized

Listen to “End of the Line” by Fred Smith

The story of Abram’s calling begins at the end of the line. If you trace the descendants of Adam through Noah and then to Terah, the line of family was about to disappear because Sarai, the daughter of the first-born of the last of Adam’s line was barren. While it had survived against great odds – it was about to be extinguished.

For 1,000 years between Noah’s covenant and Abram there had been no word from The Lord. “This is the sign of my covenant” – and then silence for a millennium. I’ve wondered how they were able to live on so little from God when we expect to hear from Him constantly and in so many ways. Could we survive for any time at all if God were silent? I think not…and yet most of the saints talk about the times when God is hidden.

It was the end of the line in another way as well.

His father had set out for Canaan but had settled in Haran and died there. Life changed for Terah on the way to somewhere else. He took the wheels off the mobile home and settled half-way there. It was not a detour or side road or wrong turn but a rest stop that became a residence.

There is a powerful urge to settle in, to find a comfortable place and still feel like you are on the way. You’ve just stopped for a bit. But that bit becomes a lifetime. I can imagine them after a while continuing to talk about the dream to reach Canaan or even reminiscing about Ur and saying, “Tomorrow or the next day we are going to get on our way to Canaan. We’ve not stopped. We’re just taking a break.”

Haran was an interesting place. It was not out of the way or off the road. It was in the middle of everything. There was constant activity with traders, travelers, new ideas, and interesting experiences. There was the illusion of going somewhere by constant exposure to people who were.

I think Abram grew up knowing his family was on the way to somewhere else when they settled in Haran. Do our kids wonder about our “Canaan”? We talk about where we came from but do we ever talk about where we are headed – what we dream about? Those things that we set out to do…and still think about even if we’ve settled in short of where we were headed.

Haran is any place we park on the way to where we set out to go. It’s not disobedience like Babel. It’s just settling instead of going on. It may be psychological, spiritual, relational or any number of things, but it is where we have stopped and stayed.

Abram’s Call

“Leave everything you know

Take everything you have,

And you will not be coming back.”

No sugar coating or comfort. No assurances. Just go. He calls him to leave and follow – with no destination.

Most of us like to have a destination in mind – that is our definition of calling – but God sometimes asks us simply to follow with no other instructions. Ironically, he takes him to the place where his father was going and then takes him through it to somewhere else for years – Egypt. Later, he brings him back, but Abram goes from place to place until he comes to Bethel – the place where he had started.

God uproots Abram for most of his life.

Even then God tells him that this land will not be his but will belong to his offspring after they have been enslaved and mistreated for hundreds of years. God’s perspective and ours are different. He thinks in generations. We want a satisfying life now and God is creating a legacy of which our life is a part – but not the whole.

I used to think each of our lives has an independent story – unconnected to those who came before and those who follow. We each have our dream and individual call. To foist our dream on our children is wrong and to carry the burden of our parents’ unfulfilled dreams is as well. However, as I read this, I realize our lives are not a collection of independent short stories. They are chapters in a larger novel that plays out over generations – each of us being connected and accountable to those who came before and those who follow.

Our lives are not merely our own.

I love this story. It is a story that begins at a dead-end – a cul de sac. The lights are going out. The dream is dying. Yet, it concludes with the start of a new nation, a new people and the salvation of the world.

What happens when we settle in our Haran – the place we’ve parked and taken the wheels off the mobile home? What can happen when our children are called to get back on the road to where we were going? Our lives are connected, and God’s mission takes longer than we could have imagined.

There are still places that look like the end of the line in the story. The places that look like dead-ends – except to God.

An excerpt from Where The Light Divides

Photo by Fred Smith

More Posts
Showing 10 comments
  • Avatar
    John Thomas
    Reply

    ‘The silence of God’ – we live in a generation of people, who don’t want to dig into the Word of God to hear from Him. All they want is a so-called ‘prophet’ to tell them some nice comforting and prosperous word!

    • Fred Smith
      Fred Smith
      Reply

      Thank you, John – and good morning! As a Sunday School teacher for 35 years I could not agree with you more. We want a convenient and undemanding God. Thank you for your perseverance.

  • Avatar
    Sam Griffith
    Reply

    So well said, Fred.
    Yes, our lives, both spiritually and in our daily lives, are not solitary marathons. Rather, we are in a relay race, picking up the ‘baton’ of Faith from our predecessors, then ‘running the race set before us’, and then handing the baton off to those who will carry on our obligation to ‘contend for the Faith’ (Jude v 3) after we go Home.
    But sadly, too many folks who come to church on Sundays are satisfied to get a tidbit, a morsal of Biblical truth, maybe a verse or two, but wonder why they are spiritually underfed and spiritually weak.
    Henry Blackabee noted that Jesus said “My sheep hear My Voice.” Sadly, too many are satisfied by ‘hearing’ from GOD second or third handed. We are admonished to “study to show thyself approved unto GOD, workman that needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

    • Fred Smith
      Fred Smith
      Reply

      Thank you, Sam. Yes, there are
      so many influences and shortcuts that make us feel we are mature. We need to persevere. I keep thinking how many times Paul must have wanted to throw in the towel.

  • Avatar
    Bob Andringa
    Reply

    Fred, in my late 50’s Ted Engstrom and I agreed on a motto to help us persevere beyond the typical retirement age — Peak at 80. It was helpful to me (and I think Ted, too, who died at 90). A week ago I reached 80, but with renewed energy to keep on trusting God, learning, and serving. I did quickly form the Peak at 80 Alumni Society to encourage others there and to help and encourage those coming behind. I see you are doing that through your blogs and I would love to learn more from you. May we all experience his deep Shalom as we continue the journey as God directs and in His timing.

    • Fred Smith
      Fred Smith
      Reply

      Thank you, Bob. This is new territory for a guy who has never set goals or objectives. I just woke up and did what was necessary or looked for opportunities to investigate. I am asking my kids think about “Canaan” and whether I have taken the wheels off the mobile home!

    • Avatar
      Kerry Hasenbalg
      Reply

      “Peak at 80,” that is a wonderful motto!

  • Avatar
    Walt Gallaway
    Reply

    Don’t be concerned about whether you have taken the wheels off your mobile home, Fred. I know better! There are enough urgings in your messages for all of us to know you are still in the fast lane and moving along nicely. What we need, like Sam says above, is as much spiritual food as we can get. Your messages are building our capacity and our desire to exercise His will.

    I leave 77 behind this year convinced the best is yet to come. Remember, old guys rule, Bob. Cheers to your Peak at 80 Society! Whippersnappers may be stunned at what Codgers can accomplish…being this close to Glory is empowering.

    • Fred Smith
      Fred Smith
      Reply

      Thank you, Walt. I woke up in January 1st and realized I have an office but no formal role or responsibilities in any organization. I have no decisions to make! That’s not happened since 1977. I’m going to be serious about what’s next.

Leave a Comment