Several years ago, just before my son Jack was born, I worked for a multi-billion dollar company headquartered in downtown Houston. At the time, we lived in The Woodlands area about 40 miles north. The commute everyday was a killer, and I just wanted to get closer to home so that I could have more time with my growing family. My job offered incredible benefits and a flexible work environment. I enjoyed the folks I worked with and really had no complaints…except that it was too far away. So I began to talk to recruiters, my primary criteria being that it was closer to home. A few months later, a job came along that would cut my commute in half. Benefits were lousy compared to what I had. The pay was not that much better. And it was not a good fit for my skill set. But it was closer to home. It was a bad move. I didn’t know it at the time, but looking back it should have been obvious. It ended up being the only job I’ve ever been fired from. It led to a series of four different jobs in a two year span of time. My resume took a serious hit.
Have you ever been there? A bad decision that turns into a string of bad decisions that lead down a divergent path to the one you were on. Abram can relate.
There is a famine in the land of Canaan that results in an unplanned trip to Egypt. A seemingly innocent lie about Sarai his wife, finds Abram in a precarious situation. Pharaoh takes notice of Sarai, and she becomes his wife. Not what Abram had planned at all. But God rescues him and curses Pharaoh and his people. Abram leaves a richer man, but not unscathed by the experience. He allowed his wife to be taken by another man, and that has consequences.
Fast forward. God has promised Abram some fantastic things – real estate, lots of descendants, a great name, and the unique position of being a blessor of the the nations. The Genesis 3:15 Seed of the woman will come through his line.
Abram has a foothold in the land. He has experienced a taste of the blessing. But he still doesn’t have a son. So it’s time to make things happen. Plan A, adopt a servant to become his heir. God says, “No, but you will have a son from your own body.” OK. Plan B, (several years later and still no son), how about Hagar as a surrogate mother for their son. Hagar would bear Abram’s son, then Sarai would adopt him. Screaming red lights. This is not a good decision. But Abram ignores the warning signs and goes along with the plan. It leads to great strife within the household and the expulsion of Hagar. Abram abdicates his responsibility to lead. And the original bad decision to go to Egypt is revisited as an Egyptian maid becomes his concubine.
Finally God offers Plan C. He becomes more explicit with His instructions to Abram. He and Sarai will have a son. It should have been understood. Genesis 2. Adam says of the woman whom God has created, “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman because she was taken out of man.” Moses adds the commentary, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife. And the two shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” The original promise that God made to Abram was meant for the two of them. Adding Hagar to the mix confused the two becoming one. And it caused a great deal of problems for the couple.
Although Abram takes a circuitous route to get there, he finally arrives at the place of promise. Choosing to do things his own way resulted in a great deal of pain and heartache. It would have been much easier trusting God all along…easier to say than do. So many times in my own life I’ve looked back thinking, “If I’d only waited here, or done that there…” but God still uses the detours to mold and shape us (if we will let Him) and to make us who He wants us to be. It’s interesting that in the midst of Abram’s wilderness experience, God uses Hagar to remind him of His character…Hagar’s son is to be named Ishmael because the LORD had heard her affliction. Hagar called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees me”. God hears. God sees. God cares.
Until next time…stay salty.