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Daring to follow God’s plan for your life is an act of faith that rarely happens by accident. You have to be listening to hear His plans!

So how do you develop a lifestyle that makes you attentive to God’s direction for your life? It all starts with being willing to be taught. It begins with your willingness to live a life of repentance.

The Scriptures are full of stories about people who dared to follow God’s path and the challenges they faced in staying faithful to God’s direction. And this is still true today. We live in a society where it’s easy to get distracted by our own plans and follow our own desires. And, let’s face it, most of us really want to be happy and at peace. We really don’t mean to clutter our lives with problems and wrong choices. And yet, we do just that. And this spiritual clutter creates a “comfort zone” around us of the familiar, the “safe” and the feelings of normalcy and “home.” But it’s a trick to enslave us to our passions, to mediocrity, and to a lesser life. We have to dare to hear God, and then obey God. Especially on this Feast of the Annunciation, we are giving this wisdom for this holy day!

Look at our lesson today in Genesis 12:1-7:

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse, and by you, all the families of the earth shall bless themselves.”

So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions which they had gathered, and the persons that they had gotten in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan. When they had come to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the LORD appeared to Abram, and said, “To your descendants, I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

Here we are at the beginning of the story of the “father of the Faithful” Abraham. Now he is merely Abram, but that will all change as he continues following God’s will for his life. The story of Abraham is the story of how one man was willing to follow God’s will even though he had no idea what was going to happen. It is an adventure all of us should read about and learn from on a regular basis. As an aside, this is why I find these Old Testament readings so very valuable and fill with wisdom. Our familiarity with the Scriptures that our Lord knew and spoke about is part of the heritage of the Christian faith. And we should never ignore this treasure.

Abram was chosen by God to leave his homeland, to leave what was comfortable and “safe,” and go to another place to plant the seeds of a new nation that would eventually be the nation of the Hebrews. And it was from this nation that God would choose a virgin and an angel would come to her one day and Announce that she was to be the mother of God in the flesh. Then He would take His flesh from her and come among us to undo all the failures of the rebellion of humanity and redeem the whole of Creation with His Life, Death, and Resurrection.

And it all starts with one man’s willingness to hear God’s voice calling him. Then that man dared to believe the message of God to him and he followed through with the invitation from God to go to a new land and start what would become the Jewish people.

Notice Abram was already an older man when he began his journey of faith, and he led his family to follow him of Ur. And when Abram and his family got to the place God had directed him, he did what all of us should do regularly – he built an altar and worshipped. It’s never too late and you’re never too old to do great things!

This story of the beginning of Abram’s life of faith gives us a couple of insights into what a life of faith really is. It is a life of attentiveness to God’s wisdom and His direction. It is a life meant to include our whole family. And it is a life filled with promises that we might not see in our lifetime, but we, nevertheless, continue working towards these promises our whole lives. And what is our reward for this attentive faithfulness? A life well lived and heritage passed on to the next generation to continue the journey.

As we celebrate the ForeFeast of the Annunciation today, let’s see how leaving the comfort zone of the familiar and the regular made the Theotokos question the Archangel Gabriel and then have her say “Let it be done to me as you have said. I am the Lord’s handmaiden.” Nothing less than her willingness to follow God’s will whatever the cost could produce this kind of response from this young woman, having been raised all her life in the Temple, and now, as a young woman coming of age, she is told of God’s grace toward her and us that He would take His flesh from one of us, forever exalting our humanity to finally be what we were created to be in the first place – God’s eternal companions! This Feast just continues the inescapable witness of how to be who God created us to be – follow Him, even when it means leaving everything you thought was comfortable and safe!

Today, what can you learn from Abram’s life of faith? It is time we all take a moment and examine our own willingness to be attentive to God’s direction for our lives and to make sure to include our family in this exciting life of Faith. It’s time to be Orthodox on Purpose.

P.S. Today is the prelude of universal joy; let us keep the forefeast in gladness. For, behold, Gabriel comes with fear and wonder to the Virgin, bringing her the good tidings: Rejoice, you who are full of grace; the Lord is with you.

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