I smiled when I opened the ‘forty days’ resource yesterday as the first reading was Genesis 12:1-5, the story of God’s call to Abram to leave his homeland and follow God on a journey.  This is the third time in a fortnight that I’ve encountered this passage, having explored it with our 10-14s group the other Sunday and looked at it in connection with a discipleship resource on 3rd  age being developed by Lichfield diocese, which I’m helping to write part of.  The question was how far we’re tempted to stay safely rooted in familiarity rather than step out in faith in new directions God is calling us to.  I think that is perennially challenging and I know there are a number of areas of my life that this should speak to.  However, for my mobile, connected, choice-rich generation it’s the prospect of social and geographical roots, rather than that of adventure, which can be the more challenging and troubling.  Sometimes it’s easier to hold off; not to invest in the place where you live, or the everyday encounters with others, for fear of becoming drawn into challenging and uncomfortable situations (and we are so good at insulating ourselves from those), or from finally having to come off the fence and decide to use one’s life in one way rather than another.  And yet it’s only when we get our hands dirty, and become implicated in the practical living out of the Gospel with particular people, in particular places, that we really begin to live faithfully.  One of the most inspirational and fruitful Christian couples I know have lived in the same neighbourhood of their city their whole lives, and their rootedness in their neighbourhood is one of the things that enable them to love it so generously.  Of course it’s partly an attitude of mind and intention: roots and stability do not guarantee effectiveness any more than pioneering a new path.  Stepping out in faith can sometimes be more of an inner journey of trust, and at other times involve a physical move and care is needed to discern which is which.  But here in this story it’s the openness to the call that counts.  And when I’m tempted to question whether I have used my life effectively, I remember that Abram was 75 at the start of the story.  God can still use me yet.

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