Abraham is the man when it comes to faith. In the book of Hebrews, the author dedicates six verses to the life of Moses, the great leader of the people of Israel, the man who struck the rock and caused water to burst forth. But Abraham? He gets twelve verses, praising him for his great faith in God. Stick that in your ephod and eat it Moses!
But Abraham’s great life of faith was punctuated by some bizarre episodes. For example, when he and Sarah (then Sarai) were about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai:
When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, “I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake.” (Genesis 12:11-13 ESV)
What the heck? Abraham uses his wife as a human shield in order to protect his own skin. Even though God had promised him that he would have a son, he is still worried that the Egyptians will kill him and steal his wife. What gives?
The problem was that Abraham began to take circumstances into his own hands rather than trusting in the promise and protection of God. When the threat of violence arose, he didn’t commit himself to the sovereign hands of the God who had called him. Instead he began scheming for his own protection. He devised a plan that he thought would protect both him and Sarai. He tried to take control of the situation.
As I think about Abraham’s boneheaded plan, I realize that we’re not much different. When trouble arises our first response is to try to brainstorm our way out of it. When money gets tight, our gut reaction isn’t to confess our trust in the God who has promised to meet all of our need according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. It’s to take a closer look at the budget and tighten our belt a few notches. When one of our children isn’t doing well spiritually, we resolve to be more stern, to correct more frequently, and to quickly stamp out any nonsense. Instead of committing them to the only One who has the power to melt a heart of stone, we try to be the Holy Spirit. When condemnation rises in our hearts, we try to work our way out of by praying more, serving more, and reading our Bible more, instead of believing God’s promise that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.
Abraham blundered when he tried to take control of a situation instead of relying on the promise of God. Thankfully, we can learn from Abraham’s mistake and not end up accidentally giving away one of our family members. Let God be God. Don’t try to be sovereign.
+photo by Zach Dischner