So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan,6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 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. 8 From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. 9 And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb. – Genesis 12:4-9
I grew up in a mom and pop motel. Our family had a living quarters adjacent to the front office. There was a small “lobby” which was really more of an entry area where the registration desk was located. We would yell, “Me!” whenever we came in the door so other family members wouldn’t have to jump up and come to the desk. It was a family business and we all pitched in. We were all directly part of the successes and struggles of those years.
Some people think of the Christian faith as an intensely personal matter. It’s true, “God has no grandchildren.” Our faith in Jesus is a personal faith. I cannot believe for you, nor you for me. Except that’s not totally true.
An example: Years ago I was providing pastoral counseling to a member of the church I served at the time. She was struggling deeply in her faith. She had doubts and spiritual struggles that plagued her. She told me that she just couldn’t believe that God would help her, that he loved her, or that he listened to her prayers. I told her, that I would believe for her. I prayed for her. I believed for her. And over time God’s Holy Spirit revived her faith. She took hold of the promises of God. She saw God’s work in her life. She embraced faith and continues to do so today.
Perhaps Sarai had her doubts. Lot, too, and his wife. No doubt the servants who traveled along with Abram as he set out had their own degree of faith in God or in Abram. But they were in the throng of followers. And sometimes you must follow before you believe. Sometimes faith follows obedience.
Studies continually show that the most important factor in a person’s faith is the nurture of parents and family. There are exceptions no doubt. Some come to faith despite their families’ faithless foundations. Others grow up in a family of faith and abandon it altogether. But the impact of fellow family members in the faith formation of a person is powerfully important.
Abram takes his family along on this trek of faithful obedience. That included servants as well as immediate and distant relatives. If we seek to extend the boundaries of who we think of as family we will perhaps also extend the reach of our witness and impact of God’s grace into more lives as well. Lutheran Hour Ministries has an excellent in depth study on this that is well worth exploring.
Where are you taking your family? Are you seeking to help them follow God, believe in Jesus, and declare his goodness? Whom do you need to thank within the family of which you are a part for their influence and bolstering of your faith?
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