When Abraham left his land, either to complete his father’s journey or to embark on his own quest, it was unlike any journey in the Bible so far.
This was not Adam or Cain or the people of Babel, who travelled as an act of exile or diminution. This journey was a response to a divine imperative. But God’s curious call was one, as Avivah Zornberg says, ‘articulates and emphasises displacement as its crucial experience’ (Genesis: the beginnings of desire, p 74).
‘A call that emphasises displacement’, now there’s a phrase. It appears that Abraham had no destination in mind when he left. Instead he was to look, to all the world, as if he was lost. The only real direction was ‘keep moving!’
What if we were to experience the call of God on our lives more as a sense of displacement or dislocation, rather than a comfort or security?
The disturbing thing is that this first great trial of Abraham finds a later echo in Genesis 22 when he is called to another journey ‘to a place I will tell you about’ (22:2). Once again God calls him and tells him ‘I won’t tell you the destination just yet!’
But I’m getting ahead of myself.