Almost every video game involves a quest. The main quest (or plot) may be simplistic to the extreme (“kill the aliens” or “capture the enemy flag”) or much more involved, but in almost every video game you have a central purpose. In many of these games, this purpose is optional — RPG type games are most famous for this, but it’s true in many other game genres as well.
Read Genesis 11:27 through 12:9 out loud and envision it as the intro to a new video game. God is clearly giving Abram a quest. Terah had the quest originally but got distracted and failed, so God gave the quest to Terah’s son, Abram. Initially, as in most video games, the quest is a vague “go that direction to a place I’ll show you later”. Over time, we’ll see that the quest becomes more specific as Abram proceeds (again, very similar to a video game) but the initial quest is broad, vague, and has no time limit.
In the same way, each of us has been given a Quest (with a capital ‘q’). It can be hard for all of us, especially as middle schoolers, to really believe that God has created a unique life-long major quest specifically for each of us.
Looking back at the passage, there are three key sections:
1) The quest is given (12:1-3)
2) Abram accepts the quest and gets started (12:4-5)
3) The first “step” is completed and Abram gets a reward!
We’ve talked about the first item and touched on the second. It’s important to emphasize that the quest is ready and waiting, but that they need to accept it and get started. Theologically, this is somewhat shaky ground — but there’s no need to get into a deeper discussion that only God (through the Holy Spirit) can start something new within us. The goal is to encourage us (whether leaders or middle schoolers) to be active in our faith.
The third and final stage in this passage is the reward — Abram started his quest so God gave him a reward. Each time, to commemorate the event, Abram builds an altar in response. It’s unlikely that God will specifically speak to us as we proceed in our quests, but He will interact! He will be present, providing “rewards” and encouragement along the way.