The history of a man's relationship with God is the story of how God calls him out, takes him on a journey, and gives him his true name. Most of us have thought it was the story of how God sits on his throne waiting to whack a man broadside when he steps out of line. Not so. He created Adam for adventure, battle, and beauty; he created us for a unique place in his story and he is committed to bringing us back to the original design. So God calls Abram out from Ur of the Chaldeas to a land he has never seen, to the frontier, and along the way Abram gets a new name. He becomes Abraham. God takes Jacob off into Mesopotamia somewhere to learn things he has to learn and cannot learn at his mother's side. When he rides back into town, he has a limp and a new name as well.
Even if your father did his job, he can only take you partway. There comes a time when you have to leave all that is familiar and go on into the unknown with God.
Saul was a guy who really thought he understood the story and very much liked the part he had written for himself. He was the hero of his own little miniseries, Saul the Avenger. After that little matter on the Damascus road he becomes Paul; and rather than heading back into all of the old and familiar ways, he is led out into Arabia for three years to learn directly from God. Jesus shows us that initiation can happen even when we've lost our father or grandfather. He's the carpenter's son, which means Joseph was able to help him in the early days of his journey. But when we meet the young man Jesus, Joseph is out of the picture. Jesus has a new teacher — his true Father — and it is from him he must learn who he really is and what he's really made of.
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