As I said in my previous blog, I’m reading Paula Gooder’s The Meaning is in the Waiting as an Advent devotional this year, and I started slightly early so that on each Sunday of Advent I could share a brief reflection on the week’s readings.
The thing that most struck me this week actually came during the first day’s reading. The theme of the book – if the title didn’t give it away – is waiting, and we started with Abraham and Sarah, who waited long years for the fulfilment of God’s promise.
That promise began with a command to “Go” – except that the Hebrew word can also be a command to “Come”. Did God send Abraham into the wilderness, or did he call him into his presence? Or did he do both, because God is both with us and before us? My instinct tells me it’s the later.
We have talked recently about the dissonant voices of the Bible, and sometimes the uncertainty can be frustrating, but sometimes the ambiguity is deliberate. God is rarely either/or, but more usually both/and.
Because I am an incurable nerd, this got me thinking about Jesus’ first command to the disciples. “Follow after me,” he said to them, “and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)
The Greek is more precise than the Hebrew, so there is no subtlety of meaning here, but instead the balance between call and commision is made plain to see. Jesus does not send us without calling us, and he calls us in order that he might send us.
Sometimes that will be a challenge and sometimes it will be an encouragement. Sometimes it will be maddeningly both at one. Whatever it is for you now, I pray that you will be open to it.