Lekh Lekha: Forsaking All
Being a follower of God seldom means having an easy life. Someone who knew this more than most was Abraham. Those who saw him, however, would have borne witness to the great blessing which God had brought upon him because of his obedience.
Before he was Abraham (meaning “father of a multitude,”), he was Abram (meaning “exalted father”). When Abram was 75 years old, about the time most of us would be thinking of taking life easy, God tells him to do something quite different: “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing,” (Genesis 12:1-3).
Many others in history have heard this call to travel to some foreign land at the leading of the Lord. This is to be expected, for as Mark records, “Jesus said, ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life,” (Mark 10:29-30). In the days of Yeshua, a disciple would literally leave everything he had to follow a teacher, as we see in the calling of each of the apostles recorded in the Gospels.
While some have physically left their family or their home to follow Yeshua in our modern age, it is not something that everyone must fulfill literally. However, everyone who wishes to be a disciple of Yeshua must consider those relationships and possessions as if they were nothing: “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple,” (Luke 14:26). Abram proved that he was willing to forsake all things in order to know God.
Although Abram left a lot behind, he was by no means a pauper: “Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold,” (Genesis 13:2). As we saw earlier, Yeshua said, “there is no one who has left house, etc.,… who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time.” If God asks us to give something up that is dear to us, in some cases it is because those things may be harmful for our spiritual growth. But in other cases, it is in order to prove that we love God more than those things. In either case, we can hold fast in our belief that God will provide whatever is best for us, whether it be riches or poverty, friends or foes, a place to call home or a sturdy pair of shoes.
Standing in contrast with Abram, we see another rich man in the passage in Mark. This man, however, had put his faith in his own wealth and the security of home: “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!'” (Mark 10:21-23).
This warning of Yeshua’s is not only for those who possess large amounts of wealth. This same obsession can take hold of those on any level of economic prosperity. Nothing that we believe we own or have possession of actually belongs to us: “For the world is Mine, and all it contains,” (Psalm 50:12). Unless we totally renounce this world and every piece of it that we claim as our own, including people we care about or special abilities we take ownership of, we will never be able to completely give ourselves to God. As mentioned before, this does not mean removing those things from your life completely. But just like Abram, we must treat all things as coming from God; they are His to give and His to take away.