Reading through Genesis I marvel at the way the relationship between God, the LORD, and Abraham unfolds. The relationship was initiated by God – “The Lord said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1, HCSB). Remarkably, Abraham went! After arriving in place he’d never been, by a route revealed only one step at a time “… he moved on to the hill country east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. He built an altar to Yahweh there, and he called on the name of Yahweh.” (Genesis 12:8, HCSB – see also Genesis 13:4).
Next we read how God – again taking the initiative – speaks “After these events, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield; your reward will be very great.” (Genesis 15:1, HCSB) During this encounter the author of Genesis pauses to tell us “Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6, HCSB) As the account unfolds we again read “When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to him, saying, “I am God Almighty. Live in My presence and be blameless.” (Genesis 17:1, HCSB) and “Then the Lord appeared to Abraham at the oaks of Mamre while he was sitting in the entrance of his tent during the heat of the day.” (Genesis 18:1, HCSB)
When the LORD appeared to Abraham at the oaks of Mamre, God revealed that Abraham’s plea for a son, an heir, would be answered in a miraculous way – Sarah, who had been barren would conceive despite her age and give birth to a son. Shortly before Sarah’s death, well after the birth of Isaac, we read that after an encounter with Abimelech, a Gentile king, “Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba, and there he called on the name of Yahweh, the Everlasting God.” (Genesis 21:33, HCSB).
How does the account of your encounters with God read? At some point in your life God initiated a relationship with you. Maybe it was through the influence of your parents, a pastor or Bible teacher. Perhaps a friend invited you to church, or shared with you how Jesus had changed their lives.
You responded – either positively or negatively. Abraham responded with obedience. Arriving in the place he’d been promised Abraham began marking his encounters with altars – places where he could ‘call’ upon the name of the LORD. These encounters revealed, step by step, God’s purpose and plan.
Wherever you are in your journey – just beginning or well on the way – remember to acknowledge those places where God has made Himself known. You might start by keeping a journal. Maybe you will create a piece of art memorializing what you have learned of God. Perhaps you will take some time and share your experience with others who are on the journey of learning to know God.