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.”—Genesis 12:1-3, NLT
Many things make the life of immigrants difficult, but losing the security of family and homeland often presents the most heart-wrenching challenge. In some cases, relationships to father or mother or family have already suffered impairment, and the green light that means “go” certainly does not imply a red light to stop the pain. Going away may even make reconciliation of broken relationships virtually impossible. Whether immigrants enjoy a close relationship with their families or suffer estrangement from them, long years of inner struggle await them.
Leaving one’s homeland presents a similar hardship. Even if they leave their countries as refugees, an endless list of losses—the comforts of habit, the unmovable feast of traditional foods, the precious memories of significant places, the laughter of friends, pride over one’s country and culture, the very sense of belonging—circulate through memory like abandoned luggage on an airport baggage carousel.
Abram left all of these things behind because he had heard the Call of God. He considered the loss of all those things worthwhile in order to gain the Will of God for his life. God had a mission for him, and he decided to accept it. In return, God rewarded him with lavish promises that God still honors to this day.
Like Abram, God has called every one of us to follow God’s leading. When we walk in Abram’s Way, God promises to make us a blessing. When we say yes to the call of God, God transforms our migration into mission and our perils into pilgrimage. God’s immigrants not only seek blessing in their new home, they succeed in blessing others. When we achieve that, we find the true glory of migration.
Copyright©2013 by Joseph L. Castleberry.
Dr. Joseph Castleberry is President of Northwest University in Kirkland Washington. He is the author of Your Deepest Dream: Discovering God’s Vision for Your Life and The Kingdom Net: Learning to Network Like Jesus. Follow him on Twitter at @DrCastleberry and at http://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Castleberry.