Devotional 13th February 2019
We all make mistakes
As he was about to enter Egypt he said to his wife, Sarai, ‘when the Egyptians see you they will say “This is his wife.” Then they will kill me but let you live. Say you are my sister so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.’ Genesis 12:10 - 20
This passage in Abram’s story shows us how human Abram was. I find it easy to put people on pedestals especially Bible greats like Abram. But like all of us, Abram was flawed and faced the same temptations we do, to try to work things out himself whenever he faced trouble rather than seeking the Lord and trusting in Him. Abram and Sarai were about to enter Egypt because of the famine over the land. The story doesn’t go into details but I can imagine they were already feeling a lot of fear about their future as they went from place to place in this new but scorchingly barren land. We saw last time how Abram was developing the wonderful practice of building altars of worship at each stopping point on his journey, but even when we are regularly making time to worship, we can still get sidetracked by our fears and anxieties. Maybe we need to check each day, what am I thinking about most today? What feelings are gripping me? Am I focussing on the Lord or on the situation?
For Abram and Sarai all the Bible passage says is that the famine was severe. Try to imagine how that must have felt to this large group of homeless people. They were on the move having to sustain themselves daily on what they could glean from the earth but now there was nothing. The ground was rock hard. No vegetation, animals dying, no water. Maybe they saw people in other tribes losing the battle to live? Is this how they would all end up, dying in the desert?
So in reaction they decided to go to Egypt. Maybe the famine was less there and certainly, as a large developed civilisation, there would have been ways built in for people to survive such hard times.
So having made the only possible choice in the face of death, Abram and Sarai made their plans but it doesn’t indicate if they worshipped and prayed first? It seems that out of his mindset of anxiety that had been building up throughout the struggle with the famine, Abram now began to anticipate what would go wrong next.
I wonder if you ever do this? I know I do! I get nervous sometimes facing social situations because I struggle, with my deafness to feel part of a group. I start to anticipate all the ways I may make a fool of myself. I get into a state of nerves and out of that I do and say silly things or totally withdraw and say nothing at all. This seems like wisdom as it prevents me from putting my foot in it but it is a false wisdom as it means that I am there but not there and missing the opportunity to bless the others. I am sure that makes the Lord sad.
On this occasion Abram’s decision to pass Sarai off as his sister seemed wise humanly for as he’d imagined, Pharaoh was enraptured by her beauty and did take her to be his own wife. So Abram seemed to be validated in what he had planned. But I wonder what would have happened if Abram had fully relied on the Lord instead of following his fear? It must have been very traumatic for Sarai when Abram was lying about her being his wife. How terrifying to have to succumb to Pharaoh and keep pretending knowing they may both be killed at any time.
The thing about following anxiety’s path is that it does make us very self centred. All our focus is on ‘will this awful thing happen to me?’ All Abram could think of was that he would be killed and he was far more anxious about that than about Sarai.
But the Lord was still with them and supernaturally brought the ill planned charade to an end by inflicting punishment on Pharaoh who not too surprisingly was very upset with Abram as a result. But God was in charge and kept them safe in that situation and they left rich in material supplies but possibly poorer in their spiritual growth.
But God uses all things even our mistakes and self centredness to draw us closer to Him. As we know Abram and Sarai did move on and ultimately became dynamic God followers but it took some growing time as it does with us all.
Who will we follow in difficult times? Our anxiety or the Lord?
Father thank you for the way you stuck to Abram despite the choices he made. Forgive me for those times I focus so much on myself and my anxieties. You are so much bigger and your ways are perfect. Help me to start to focus on you and listen for your voice above all else. In Jesus name, amen.