My favorite book in the Bible is Isaiah. My second favorite is Hebrews. They're books of poetry and metaphor and prophecy and hope. My dad's the one whose favorite is Genesis.
But these days I can't stop thinking about Abraham.
It started this summer when I started reading Abraham's story in the daily Lectionary.
And then we talked about him in church one day.
And it was just everywhere.
I remember when I thought I didn't want to go to graduate school, after all (can that only have been in May?). I was on the phone with my best friend Chaz, and I told him that I felt like Abraham a little. I felt like God was asking me to go into uncharted territory, to a place that He would show me. I just had to start walking.
I felt like a life without music school, or without a musical vocation, was the direction God was asking me to walk without knowing where I was going. That He would show me. I was fairly convinced.
Chaz listened. I trust him because I know he's always going to tell me the truth. He told me that the way he saw it, me walking into territory I didn't know, led by God, involved me going to grad school after all. And I got that, and I told him I got it, but I knew what I felt the Holy Spirit was teaching me.
God said to Abraham, "Get up. Leave your people and your father's house, and go to the land that I will show you."
Get up, and start walking, and I'll tell you when you get there.
I'm a planner, and I'm an Enneagram Type One, and we like routines and plans and sure things, please and thank you.
But I'm also an artist, and an Adventuress, and the way of spontaneity and the unexpected calls to me like a song from another world.
And these two parts of my heart are constantly at war. My inner critic (my counselor and I have named her Veronica) is constantly screaming in my ear, and the Spirit of God is rubbing my back and holding my hand and pressing His lips gently against my temple to calm the racing panic in my heart.
He tells me it's okay.
A quiet settles in the depths of my spirit that Veronica (why not call her by her name?) refuses to accept.
And there is war. There is blood sprayed across the fields of my inner life. This is not Elysium. This is Armageddon.
God told Abraham to simply go to the unknown places that He would show him.
And Abraham went.
What interests me is the space between the call and the action.
Abraham -- Abram, as he was known at the time -- had no experience with the Creator God. He lived in a pagan city, probably worshiped pagan gods. After the initial shock of encounter with the bright Light of the true Divine, I wonder if he protested. I wonder if he was afraid. I wonder if he begged.
And I wonder if the call of God came in answer to a restless stirring in his heart that he'd felt for some time but couldn't put words to.
Maybe Ur no longer felt right -- like an itch you can't scratch, like a shoe that's only a little too small. Maybe he was a little depressed; maybe sadness had filled his heart to where it felt waterlogged. Who's to know?
But somewhere between the call and the setting out upon the road, I know for a fact that there was fear and trembling and also excitement and ecstasy and joy.
Because I know how adventures work. It's a little bit my area of expertise at this point.
When I decided I didn't want to go to graduate school, I felt an immense sense of freedom. Freedom from expectation, freedom from something. And I think I needed that.
That was in May.
In July, as sadness threatened to swallow me for two months but I didn't know it, as a shadow loomed on all sides but I refused to acknowledge it, though it was large in my periphery as it stretched its wings around me -- as my relationship was about to fall apart, but I didn't know it -- on the night of July 10, after The Bachelorette, I found myself collapsed on the floor of my room in tears to the tune of my Bach cantata.
See, I missed singing, but was afraid to acknowledge it, because i knew that if I did, I would want to go to grad school. Bless my mama, for telling me it was okay to want that.
And so I was singing. I'm pretty sure I had practiced that day, if not the day before.
I'd taken time off, you see. I was afraid of it. I was afraid of creativity. I was running from my joy.
And I collapsed on the floor because i couldn't take it anymore.
I'm a singer. I had to sing. How could I not? How could I go my whole life and not sing Cleopatra? I asked Chaz, whom I had called in tears.
I knew then in my heart that the Lord was asking me to go to graduate school in music. I mean, y'all, I knew it. I knew it the way I am alive. Even though I didn't feel alive then. Something in me had died.
Two circumstances that week confirmed what I already knew to be true. The big one was the falling-in of my relationship. Or rather, the abrupt severance thereof.
I'd seen it coming but hadn't wanted to admit it.
Same with singing. I'd known but hadn't wanted to admit it. How many things do I see but am unwilling to admit?
I remember walking into work one day that week, the week of realization, the week of calling -- walking into work in the stadium with the sky bright blue above me and the sun gold upon my hair and on my face.
I had been reading about Abraham, but I wasn't quite to the bit where God asked him to sacrifice his son.
But the Holy Spirit brought that account to mind as I approached our side door where the staff enters -- and I audibly gasped to no one in particular except to God.
Because it was like a small kick in the abdomen, the kind you get from a baby: the whisper of the Holy Spirit, with His lips close to my ear. God had asked me to put it down, and now He was asking me to pick it back up again.
I was wearing heels and carrying two big mugs of tea, or I might have danced.
I'm not saying I'm Abraham, or that my story is anything close to his. I'm just saying that God has shown me parallels during this season of my life that I cannot get out of my head, cannot get rid of.
God has called me out. To go to a place that frightens me, for when I felt initially that He was asking me to go to grad school after all, I literally said, "I just got used to the idea of staying. Please, please don't make me."
But here I go.
God has turned my fear into anticipation, my trepidation into joy and eagerness.
I am counting days.
And I would be lying if I said I hadn't felt fear again. But i know it now, and I know it is normal, and nothing to dread or to pay too much attention to. It's the change-fear. It's not death.
When God calls you, to stay is to die a little bit. I know. I have felt it.
I do not know exactly where God will lead me. I know only first steps. But I have been called out.
I'm not Abraham -- but I feel a little like I think he must have felt. A little fear, a lot of chomping at the bit, a lot of uncertainty. A lot of feeling suspended in the air. There were no sure things, no definitive answers other than the conviction of calling and the promise that God will be with me.
When I told Chaz that I felt God was calling me to grad school, after all, he reminded me of God's promise to me. I protested: "But, Chaz, that's the deal: when God called Abraham, He promised that He would make him a great nation. I don't have that! I don't have that guarantee! All God's promised me is that He will be with me wherever I go." Pssshhhhhh.
A pause. Then: "Yeah, Sara. Exactly. He will be with you wherever you go." As if to say, Sara, listen to yourself.
At the time that promise felt insufficient.
Now it feels like the one thread tying me to sanity. And perhaps it is.
Calling never feels like a sure thing. It feels risky. It's an adventure, after all -- it is risky.
Sometimes it feels like throwing your life away. Abraham left everything. All his prosperity, all his sure things. All his friends, everything he'd ever known, everything that had ever mattered to him.
You do crazy things when you hear the call of God. Case in point: you even become a musician, and after trying to walk back into what some people call reasonability, you turn around and walk back into what most of the Western world thinks is insane and stupid because it isn't a sure thing.
We are never ever no never guaranteed sure things.
We are only called.
And even though between the call and the going forth there may be fear and trembling -- though there is packing and prep -- I want to be the woman to step out onto the Road.
I want to eschew sure things in favor of the Adventure. I am willing to give them up that I may not die -- that I may have Christ and His joy and the life-overflowing things He has given me to do.
I want to be alive.
I want to be an Abraham. And I don't believe that the weaving of his story into the fabric of my heart is a coincidence.
It's a little down payment from God, saying, Sara, look. See? See what I have done? The Promise still holds.
It's a wink and a nod and a whisper but not with voices: you are going in the right direction.
I am living on these voiceless shouts, the same way I am living on the feel of my own voice in my throat.
I don't know how to end this post.
I will only say that I think the time between the call and the going forth is getting smaller. The days are ticking by. I'm excited again.
So let's go.