This morning, I listened to Genesis 12-20, and I was struck with the chaotic nature of the Abraham cycle. There are so many things that happen in the story that make no sense to the modern sensibilities. There are angels of YHWH who tell Abraham’s concubine to return to an abusive situation with Abraham’s wife. There is this scene outside his camp where Abraham argues with YHWH, trying to convince him to save a sinful city. What’s more, YHWH seems to pop down to Abraham’s house for some mutton and conversation, seems to enjoy being with this guy who keeps making a mess of things.
We like to turn faith into an orderly procession from one idea to the next – some kind of step-by-step plan whereby we obtain righteousness. But the father of our faith, Abraham, did not follow this pattern. His life was a series of things we would not consider doing in our world – children with handmaidens, arguing with God, giving into his selfish wife, abandoning a child in the wilderness. But is there any doubt that God loved Abraham and walked with him?
This chaotic faith is something foreign to our modern world. We like straight lines and mathematical precision. We like things that advance us, whatever that means. Don’t we lose something in the symmetry and perfection of our modern world? I think we do. I can’t remember the last time YHWH dropped by my house for a snack. Can you?