I recently wrote this for my weekly teen Crosswalk.com devo:
If you and Abraham were in Heaven, relaxing over a sweat tea in rocking chairs (I know Heaven isn’t like Cracker Barrell, but that’s the best I can do right now), I think he would tell you that his little weekend trip to Egypt (Genesis 12:10-13:4) was one of the dumbest moves he made.
I’m not saying this lightly, because for me to say anything this man of faith did was dumb is like me chiding Aaron Rogers for not throwing a tight enough spiral. But Genesis clearly portrays Abraham’s move as being misguided at best.
Think about how it played out. He almost lost his wife to Pharaoh. He caused God to send plagues on Pharaoh, which I’m sure made that world ruler’s day. He also picked up Hagaar in Egypt. We all know how that worked out in Abraham’s family. And it was in Egypt that Abraham and Lot hit the jackpot and became rich. Their spoils eventually became a source of conflict and set Lot on a path to Sodom.
No, this Egypt thing didn’t work so well. God’s intent was for Abraham to stay in Canaan and let God be the hero in taking care of His people during the famine.
You see, Abraham’s issue was the issue you and I face. And I’m talking about those of you who are following Jesus. Maybe you’re not perfect. Maybe you don’t journal with a moleskin and you occasionally check your Facebook too much. However, you’re heart is right in wanting to follow Jesus as Abraham’s was.
And yet in the midst of trusting God, a big crisis occurs. For Abraham it was a famine. This mean he had schlepped his family all the way to a strange land (obeying God) and now they had no food, no water, no provisions. There was no nearby 24/hour Walmart. No Panera Bread or Jamba Juice.
This was a real crisis. But instead of trusting God, Abraham trusted himself. He was going to be the hero of the story. In doing so, he forgot something powerful. When God calls us, He is the hero of our story. Instead of seeing if God could do a miracle and feed His people in the desert (not like God ever did anything like that before, right?), Abraham took matters in his own hands.
I’ve done that lots of times. And I only end up with dirty hands and nothing to show for my scheming efforts.
What’s cool, though, about Abraham’s story is that even though he messed up in Egypt, God still was the hero of Abraham’s story. In other words, Abraham’s lack of faith didn’t thwart God’s plan to make a people and a nation out of which the Redeemer would come. God even used Abraham’s folly to show Himself strong in Egypt and continue the forward march of rescuing His people from their sin.
So what this means is that God isn’t surprised when you and I screw up. He isn’t in Heaven doing a facepalm. He’s not tweeting our failures in disgust.
No, God even uses our evil for His good.
So if you want to see God at work, learn from Abraham’s folly and stop trying to be the hero of your own story. When crisis strikes, let God be the first One you consult. Trust Him.
Abraham could tell you that God’s record is pretty good when it comes to faithfulness. Actually it’s perfect.