Saturday, August 23, 2014

Abraham: Right Where God Wants You

            When I was going through a difficult time waiting for God to bring us a house, Genesis 13 brought me a lot of comfort.  I don’t remember how I ran across it at the time that I needed it.  Maybe it was just the next passage in my regular reading or maybe God led me to it?  I don’t remember.  But we were waiting for years for God to get us out of the rental we were in and to being us the place that He wanted us to be in.  (All of this is in The Sweetly Broken Journey on the other blog.) 
            And as I waited for Him to show us the next step – to bring us the right place - I was so afraid that I’d miss the sign.  I doubted my ability to know when God was showing me the next step.  I desperately wanted to wait for His guidance, but I totally expected to fail to recognize it.  I was a mess.  And I was pleading with God to help me hear Him, to help me know when He said “Go” or “Stop.” 
            And in all of my confusion, Genesis 13 gave me the encouragement that I needed.  We read here how Abram and Lot part company.  They cannot both fit onto the land that they share, so they decide to split up.  Now what really spoke to me in this chapter is that Abram didn’t stress over where to go or choose where to go, and yet he ended up right where God wanted him to be.  When it came time to choose where to go, Abram actually lets Lot choose first and says that he’ll take whatever is left.
            Lot, of course, looks around and chooses for himself the best land.  And notice that Lot never inquired of God where he should go, which led to a lot of trouble later.  Lot simply evaluated the circumstances according to his own wisdom and made his decision without the Lord’s guidance.  How different things might have been if Lot had asked God what He thought about it all. 
            After Lot chose the land that he wanted and left, God speaks to Abram and basically says that he should look all around him because he is standing in the land that God is giving him.  Abram never had to stress about how he was going to discern God’s guidance or “signs.”  He just had to keep walking with God.  And eventually, even though it seemed overly generous to let Lot choose the best and even though it probably seemed unfair that Lot took the better land, Abram ended up right where God wanted him to be.
            This was a great comfort to me.  Because I realized that God will work His plan out if I am walking with Him.  He even uses things that look like set-backs and road-blocks to get us where He wants us to be.  I didn’t need to freak out, being overly concerned that I would miss His “signs.”  All I needed to do was walk with Him and abide in Him, and He would work out the details.  Even the confusing ones. 
            Another lesson to be learned here is how easy it is for us to risk compromising our morals for “good land.”  Although the people of Sodom were wicked, Lot could only see the good land.  He didn’t stop to consider what kind of an influence or struggle it would be to live among such people.  And if he did, then he didn’t take it seriously.  But this eventually led to his demise.  In time, he lost his home and his wife and ended up living in a cave and unknowingly impregnating his daughters.  What a sad end for what seemed like such a wise choice in the beginning, choosing the “good land.”
            But this should be a caution to us.  When there is a decision to be made, we need to inquire of God.  In so many of the passages where we read about a serious consequence of someone’s behavior or choices, we do not read this, “And he inquired of the Lord.”  Failure to ask God’s opinion on a matter means that we make a decision in our own limited wisdom.  And this could lead to serious consequences that could have been avoided if we had asked for God’s wisdom.  And waited for it.
            It seems to be a pretty common notion that no matter what we do, we will always be where God wants us to be.  God will always do whatever He wants, regardless of us.  We live as though we are always on the path He wants us to be on.  Because He is all-powerful and all-loving and always makes happen what He wants to happen.    
            But I do not think that’s true.  I think that it is totally possible to get off the path that God wants for us if we rebel or choose to go our own way or step out before He guides us.  God allows man to make his own choices.  If we want to go out in our own wisdom, He will let us.  And we will reap the consequences.  He does not push His Will on anyone.  It is up to us to seek it and to abide in Him.  (Look at the “Understanding God’s Will” series for more on this kind of stuff.)    
            But He is always there, ready and willing to give His help if we ask Him for it.  And we should be careful to live our lives completely dependent on Him and immersed in Him.  If we walk this way daily, we can be sure to be on the path that He wants us to be on.  We will not have to overly stress about discerning what His Will is because we will be right in the middle of it . . . if we focus more on walking with Him daily than with “finding the next step” or “choosing the better land.”
            And as we learn from Lot, we should not carelessly go into situations that might end up causing us to compromise our standards and morals, no matter how good the land is.  We need to be careful about guarding our hearts and our families and our values, especially in a world that seeks to destroy everything holy and godly.  We need to surround ourselves with things and people that will help us on our walks with God. 
            What are the “good lands” that we choose that might cause us to compromising our morals, making is hard to live a godly life?  What kind of movies do we watch?  What kind of music do we listen to?  Books we read?  Magazines we look at?  Websites we surf?  What do we do with others on Friday nights, or when we are alone?  Do we roam the malls where we are bombarded by messages that tell us that we don’t have enough, that we need more, that we need to have such-and-such to be happy?  Do we have friends that lift us up, build our character, and help us stay on the straight and narrow?  Or do we have friends that tear us down, tempt us to compromise our morals, or use us to make themselves feel better?
            Just some things to think about.  Spend some time in prayer today asking the Holy Spirit to search your heart and to bring up anything that is displeasing to God, any area where you are compromising or risking compromise, or any decision where you need to inquire of God first?
            And remember that if you are walking closely with the Lord daily, you won’t need to be afraid that you will miss “His Will.”  You’ll always be right where you need to be!