Separate--Even When It's Painful
Sometimes God quietly in our soul whispers, “come away from there, separate yourself.” Although we think about being called away from negative people or things, God can also call us away from good things.
Maybe you had intended to have a career making a significant amount of money, but now you feel the call to foreign missions. Perhaps you planned to marry, but God has called you to be single longer for His work. Maybe you fully intended on working in the medical field, but God has called you to homeschool your kids. The point is sometimes in life God calls us to separate ourselves. Occasionally it will be something easy for us to do, but chances are it will be painful. He might call you away from a lifelong friend that is no longer going in the same direction. It might be from a home that you have lived in almost your whole life. I want us to focus not on the change, but the Changer. You see, if God is calling you away it is because he is growing you, changing you, building your character. We do not have good character over night; it is only after years and years of making godly choices.
Abram was a man that God called to separate himself from his family. Not only did He call him to go, but did not even give him the specific destination. Abram was obedient and went. Then the Lord tells Abram He will make his descendants number the stars. The only problem was that Abram did not currently have an heir. Abram asks the question, as we do in our own life, “How do I know this will happen?” In the Old Testament people made covenants in order to make sure everyone kept their word. They would dismember or cut (Hebrew verb karath) the animal and lay them strategically on the ground. The two parties would then move through the pieces, making a covenant. They were symbolizing that if they did not keep their word, they and all their family would be like the dead carcass on the ground. However, in this covenant God caused Abram to fall into a deep sleep, and the God of the universe came down and walked through the pieces. Listen, the God of the universe did not have to answer Abram’s question, but because God loved Abram, He came down to make a covenant.
Genesis 15:17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land. So, don’t miss this, while Abram is asleep, God is making the covenant. Abram was experiencing God because of grace. It was nothing Abram had done, but simply God taking all the weight of the covenant on Himself to assure Abram it would be true. This was a representation of what our salvation would look like. It was out of grace that God saved us, nothing we did. Ephesians 2:8 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
Abram did the cutting, and God did the moving. This verb karath means to cut, to kill, to eliminate, and to cut off from the body. This verb is very aggressive. It means that person is taking an active part in cutting something, and it is permanent. Abram was willing to cut (karath) himself from his family, friends, and comfort in order for God to bless his life. He was obedient in cutting the sacrifice as instructed in order for God to cut covenant with him. God may be calling us to cut off, to separate ourselves from certain possessions, specific people, a particular job, or maybe even a geographical area. Abram was willing to separate him self in order for God to move in his life. Sometimes we wonder why God does not move in our life. It is not because God is not able; there is simply no room. We all want the blessings of God without going through the process. It would be like experiencing the Olympics without having to practice, getting a raise without coming to work, or losing weight and eating Big Macs. We know all the above things are not going to happen because there has been no work, no dedication, and no process. Why then do we expect God to gives us this unbelievable faith with His entire blessing without the work? I am a firm believer that God takes us through many trials in order to prepare for the task. It is the very hardships that help us cling to Him, build our faith, and show us our true heart. Abram didn’t become a man of righteousness overnight. He had to leave his home, he wondered for many years, and was childless until old age. His wife led him to have an illegitimate child, and he was asked to sacrifice his son, just to name a few trials in his life. It was only because Abram stepped out in faith and made room for God that He moved in Abram’s life. The separating (karath) will be hard, maybe even excruciating, but it is in that place of separation that we will truly be dependent on God. It is in the place of separation we will see God work like we never have before. It will be in the stillness of this place we will hear His voice! What is God asking you to separate yourself from in order for Him to move in your life?
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 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, 30 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.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.