”You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great.”
— Les Brown

This week’s devotional prompt would immediately lead most writers to thoughts of Abraham, and I was no different. Hand-picked by God to become the father of the nation of Israel, when God’s call came to him to pull up stakes, put Ur and his kindred in the rear-view mirror and follow an unseen God to an unknown place, it was decision time. Stay or go?

I have often found myself somewhat mystified by the story of Abraham, wondering what was it that prompted a 75-year-old man, seemingly without question or hesitation, to leave familiar surroundings and head off to an unknown destination and future. There isn’t a visible theophany here, no burning bush, just a compelling voice telling him:

“Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.”
— Genesis 12:1 NIV

There’s little doubt that his kinsmen thought him off his rocker. “You’ve lost your mind, Abram,” he was told. But Abraham’s decision, as difficult as it must have been, was to go, to heed the voice of God and embrace God’s promise:

“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
— Genesis 12:2–3 NIV

Leaving the familiar for a heavenly assignment is not always easy. Believe me, though, it takes just as much faith to stay put in a place or situation where conditions are less than favorable and the immediate future lacks luster.

Pastor David Griffin applied the case of Ruth to this truth pointing to the multiplied uncertainties she exposed herself to by refusing to leave Naomi and stay. Extreme poverty, hard work, and even death were real possibilities. But her decision to stay led to Boaz, which led to Obed, which led to Jesse, which led to David, then up-up-up the family tree to Jesus and, ultimately, to your salvation and mine.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, and both Abram and Ruth already knew, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

To stay or to go I cannot tell you, but God can, and he will.

But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
— Isaiah 40:31 ESV