I keep waking up in the wee hours of the morning. One day last week, I awoke around 3 a.m. reflecting intensely on the events of the previous day. The events of that day carried great import: a joint meeting of the staffs of JCSTS and the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, a meeting with our webmaster about JCSTS' internet presence and strategy, a focus group meeting with a small group of educators, and an evening debrief with my chief advisor--my wife! There was also the praise report from my dear colleague, Columbia Seminary President Steve Hayner, about the state of his health; and there was the news of the loss of Michael Dash, a beloved professor of mine from seminary.
During my morning reflection (and since then) I kept returning to the biblical account in Genesis 12 of Abram to whom God said, "go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you so that you will be a blessing. So Abram went, taking with him his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, their possessions and servants."
My reaction to this passage is 'Really?!' Without a roadmap? Without a clear destination? A timeline? A sustainability plan? How would Abram, Sarai, Lot, their servants, and livestock eat and stay hydrated? How would they protect themselves from marauders? What about the extended family that was left behind? How would Abram justify himself to them?
It's unclear whether Abram posed any questions to God; but it is clear that in the face of uncertainty Abram did what God asked of him--he left the stability of his homeland, took up a nomadic existence, and contented himself with only occasional glimpses of the gifts God had in store. Interestingly, the chapter that precedes Abram's radical departure describes the Tower of Babel. There, it is said that "God confused the language of all the earth and scattered the people abroad." Could it be that God brings new life out of the chaos?
Inasmuch as JCSTS has uprooted itself from its previous 'homeland' at the Interdenominational Theological Center, it too is wrestling with questions about destination, timelines, and sustainability. While we may not be entirely clear on the specifics yet, I am clear that God is calling JCSTS to live into a distinct, wonderful, new reality. I'm also clear that in this time of radical change, perhaps BECAUSE of this time of radical change, God has given us wonderful glimpses of what is to come. These glimpses are worth waking up for.