It takes a lot of work to find a name for a podcast because many have already been claimed by other presenters. When I began the pursuit of a catchy, no more than three word brand I went through several iterations before finally settling on “Out of Ur.” Mind you, every idea I had centered around the same theme…the struggle of faith and the challenges of selfless obedience to God. I then came across the following passage in Genesis 11, which follows the story of Babel and a lengthy account of begats.
“This is the account of Terah’s family. Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran was the father of Lot. But Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, the land of his brith, while his father, Terah, was still living. Meanwhile, Abram and Nahor both married.. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah…But Sarai was unable to become pregnant and had no children. One day Terah took his son Abram, his daughter in law Sarai, and his grandson Lot, and moved away from Ur of the Chaldeans. He was headed for the land of Canaan, but they stopped at Haran and settled there. Terah lived for 205 years and died while still in Haran” (Genesis 11:27-31, NLT).
A bit of background may be helpful. Ur was a community located on the Euphrates River north of the Persian Gulf in what we would call modern day Iraq. Because of the waterway, Ur was a highly developed area of commerce and religious worship. The passage doesn’t give a specific reason as to why Terah loaded up the family wagon to leave, but there are several plausible reasons for the move.
It could have been the prudent thing to do. Some fifty years following his departure, Ur was overthrown and destroyed. Perhaps there had been rumblings of a potential threat of invasion. The geographical location of Ur would have made it a desirable location of foreign governments.
Another reason may have been his intent to improve his situation in life. While Ur was known for commerce and religion, it would not have been the epicenter of either. Any wealth Terah and his family had acquired in Ur could have been grown and developed by moving to a more fluid environment.
But the reason we typically accept for leaving Ur is God’s call to Abram. Genesis 12:1-3, reinforced by Acts 7 and Hebrews 11, informs the reader than God’s call upon Abram’s life occurred while he was in Ur. Terah is given respect as the main character by virtue of his parental position, but the work taking place in these initial stages is in the life of Abram.
Abram’s calling was a call to leave one place in order to go to another. That’s pretty obvious. But the spiritual truth at work is that none of us can climb the next rung until we remove our foot from the rung we’re standing on. Or, as one author wrote, “Breakthroughs are always break withs.”
In order to experience the next rung we, like Abram, have to take steps of steady obedience in the same direction. But it also requires we exercise faith. Abram was far more certain of the place he was to leave than the place he was going. He obeyed, walking by faith.
Like Abram, we have the experience of going from and going to. And like Abram, we share in this ongoing pattern of the Christian experience. Seldom do we get to have the best of both worlds…to have our cake and eat it too. (People may take a vacation to an island resort, but they usually end up right back where they started.) These destinations may be unclear and uncertain, as is the journey toward the new destination is unknown. But there is joy in both the journey and the arrival. It just takes one step, repeated many times over.
Next week I’ll examine the second feature of the story, which is the distractions we face along the way. Thanks for reading the Out of Ur weekly email newsletter. If you’ve enjoyed it or know someone who may, feel free to forward it to their inbox.