WACO—Delvin Atchison urged Texas Baptist not to look longingly at the past or fearfully at the future but rather “look up” for their source of strength and discover unlimited possibilities.
“God invites us to peer at our possibilities from his perspective,” Atchison, director of Texas Baptists’ Great Commission Team, told the closing session of the Baptist General Convention of Texas annual meeting.
Atchison preached from Genesis 15:1-5, a passage that deals with a conversation between Abram and God. It occurred right after Abram won a military victory, but Abram was grappling with his disappointment that God had not yet fulfilled his promise of providing him descendants.
Atchison highlighted four statements from God to Abram that apply to Texas Baptists today.
First, God tells Abram, “Fear not.” Atchison pointed out it’s an interesting moment for that particular message, because Abram had just defeated his foes.
“God understands that sometimes we’re not as afraid of confrontation from our enemies as much as we are a consultation with the eternal,” he said. “Sometimes it’s not our failures that frighten us; it’s the possibilities of our successes. Sometimes it’s just easier for us to say what we cannot be rather than see what God is calling us to be.”
Second, God tells Abram to “come out” of his tent.
“God leads us to unfamiliar places. You can’t go where God wants you to go and stay in the same place,” Atchison said.
“We’re often tempted to stay in the tents of our familiar, to stay in the hut of the comfortable, but God says ‘come out.’ When God tells us to come out, his call to us is to leave what you’re comfortable with.”
That call to Texas Baptists today is to embrace a new world and new challenges in ministry, resting in the knowledge that God is leading his church.
Third, God tells Abram to “look up” at the stars.
Abram looked around and said, “I don’t have an heir.” He looked ahead to the future and said, “Everything I’ve got will go to somebody else.” He looked back at what God told him and said, “God, you didn’t keep your promise to me.”
God tells Abram to look up instead.
“The way to handle what’s behind you, the way to handle what’s before you, the way to handle what’s around you is by understanding what’s above you,” Atchison said. “Isn’t that the great call of the Christian church?
“In the light of all that’s going on around us, before we succumb to what’s around us, look up to what’s above us. When we allow what’s above us to get in us, we can handle what’s around us. Amazing things happen when you look up.”
Count the unlimited possibilities
Finally, God tells Abram to count.
“The God who offers us unbelievable protection, and the God who invites us to unfamiliar places, and calls us to an uncomfortable posture, now shows us unlimited possibilities,” Atchison said. “He says, ‘Count the stars, and if you can count the stars, you can count your destiny.’
“We have a God who is so amazing that I challenge us not to be comfortable with changing Texas, not even with changing America, but we can change the world if we’re willing to look up.”