In A Beginning ...
The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it was with the call of Abram. The Holy Spirit picked up what was dust and chaff in the wind; and as in the beginning what was unproductive and desolate God promised to this barren couple a garden in which to bear abundant fruit. The Lord uprooted a household and transplanted it in an unusual location so that when this smallest of seeds has grown, it would become a tree, larger than all the garden plants, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches. God, who first spoke the promise, then appeared to Abram, not to discover where this man was hiding but in order to show him the extent of His heritage. When he worshiped, did he chant: “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance”? Rather than test Abram with abundance, a famine was the Lord’s means—and that drove him to Egypt. Would he return to the “garden”? Would his Eve accompany him? Fearing for his well-being, Abram declined to announce this is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. Even in a strange land and misleading circumstances his household prospered, while those that acted in ignorance but for their benefit were afflicted with plagues; they recognized the finger of God and sent Abram and Sarai away.
Were the rock-formed sheep enclosures still there? If Abram’s household servants had to rebuild the folds, that reconstruction was of no consequence compared to Abram’s worship. He and his nephew Lot rejoiced in the blessing of the Lord that rested on the livestock, and it was good. Would a family disagreement shatter the prosperous peace? Lot’s eyes perceived the well-watered valley to the east (did he meet any descendants of Cain?) as a delight to the eyes … but who authorized Abram to permit Lot to choose? For the man that selected according to his eyes, he would also behold the destruction of what he had chosen. For Abram, God showed told him what to gaze upon; and for the inheritance seen and heard and believed Abram again worshiped the Lord.
Before the call of God we, too, were barren and unproductive, dead in sin; but according to our Father’s grace He planted us in the garden of His Son, well—watered and given life by the streams of Holy Baptism. The Holy Spirit hovered over us and has recreated us in true holiness and righteousness; we have been made alive together with Christ Jesus, whom was born of woman according to the promise; and even now the fruit of this planting is very good, if often quite hidden in and under the Egypts and famines and among the Canaanites of this age. In this foreign land let us, as resident aliens, sojourn in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, and bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God, confessing that we desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. In Christ Jesus, the final generation of Abram’s descendants, you are heirs of the same inheritance, for the meek shall inherit the new heavens and earth in which righteousness forever abides. From Abram’s sojourn we might expect tests along the way: shall we look to the left or to the right, or fix our eyes ahead on what no eye has seen or ear heard or heart imagined? For the promise set before him Abram continued his pilgrimage, and for the joy set before our Lord He became the author and perfecter of our faith; and now we fasten our eyes on Christ Jesus, who though rejected and crucified as the Son of God, has been raised, thereby assuring for us a portion of the most beautiful inheritance, the resurrection unto eternal life.