“But, I can read the handwriting on the wall. He’s headed towards disaster!! Why did you give him first choice?!?”

Can’t you hear Sarai’s admonishment of Abram after he and and his nephew divided the family business?  Livestock was big business in the ancient middle east and Abram’s and Lot’s interests had grown so large, that the land couldn’t support their flocks when they pastured them together. 

Thus the Abram had written Lot a bill of freedom, allowing him to be head of his own business.  Even more surprisingly, Abram had deferred to Lot, neglecting to claim what was rightfully his as patriarch of the family- the first choice of land.  


And I’ll bet Abram heard about it from those closest to him.


Even we second guess Abram’s largesse.  We, who can read the rest of the story, we who know that Lot’s choice of pasture, while a great business choice, had drastic consequences for his relationships. He lost his sons and grandchildren to death through natural disaster. His wife’s heart was no longer fully his to the point of estrangement.  All this drove him to alcoholism…with a host of unintended consequences.


Abram should never have given Lot first choice.


But I know that is not what God thinks.  


How can I be so sure?  Abram’s life also had decision points, confusing dilemmas where there was no “handwriting on the wall” from the Divine.  Sure, God had led him to leave the city of his birth.  And yes, when Abram and Sarai were faced with infertility year after disappointing year, God had interacted with Abram in dramatic ways and promised him offspring.  


But we are wrong if we think God-followers live charmed lives without tough choices.  And we are wrong if we think God doesn’t walk along side us in those times when we are reaping the consequences of having chosen wrongly in those dilemmas.

But we are wrong if we think God-followers live charmed lives without tough choices.  And we are wrong if we think God doesn’t walk along side us in those times when we are reaping the consequences of having chosen wrongly in those dilemmas.


Back to Abram.   Abram, great man of God and father of three religions, point blank lied about his relationship with his wife.  As he approached the border of Egypt, Sarai his wife caught the eye of the Egyptian ruler.  She was a ravishing beauty.  Abram was cowed by the supreme power of the pharaoh.  When the pharaoh’s underlings wanted to take Sarai into the ruler’s harem, Abram acquiesced declaring that she was his sister.  He feared many things, maybe even the loss of his own life, and certainly the loss of his livelihood.


Hah! Man of God indeed!  And Abram lied to save his own bee-hind more than once… he lied twice, the second time after his name had been changed to Abraham in dramatic fashion.  Why didn’t God swoop down and rearrange things before things got out of hand?


I can think of 3 reasons:

  1. God respects human choice and doesn’t force himself on anyone.

  2. God is a god of relationship, who chooses to go through at our side rather than pass over us and our struggles to attend to a more worthy human candidate.

  3. What honors God the most is when we deepen our trust in God as a result of having passed through these struggles.  After all, Abram wasn’t given his new name, Abraham, until he was 99 years old.


Without the very personal stories of human failure and God’s redeeming love, what good would the Bible be to us?  

A final proof in point.  When Jesus’ lineage is traced in the gospel of Matthew, it traces through Judah’s son Perez- the son he conceived after the death of his wife and outside of marriage.  

God lifts us up, he doesn’t kick us when we’re down.

To corroborate the above, check out Genesis 12: 11-20, Genesis 17: 1-5; Genesis 20:1-18 Matthew 1:3

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