March 6 I Saturday
“From there [Abram] went on towards the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east.” —Genesis 12:8
When Abram settled in the land of Canaan, it is interesting that he chose to dwell between Bethel—meaning “House of God”—and Ai—meaning “Heap of Ruin”—almost symbolic of the Christian life. For the believer, we dwell in this space between the promises of God, the hope of eternal life and what we look forward to in eternity with Him, as well as this place where there is the heap of ruin, the sinful nature and the ways of this world.
Genesis 12:10 tells us, “Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.” When there was a famine, Abram left for Egypt, even though a few verses earlier Abram received a reaffirmation of God’s promise, “To your offspring I will give this land” (Genesis 12:7). Abram responded by building an altar to worship the Lord—El Shaddai, the God who will take care of everything. But how is it that when a famine strikes, Abram would leave where God had called him to build his life?
Abram began to rely on his own resources to manage his life. As he and his wife, Sarai, were about to enter Egypt, he told her to lie to the Egyptians, saying that she was his sister, although it was partially true because Sarai was Abram’s half-sister. At that point, not only had Abram stepped out of God’s promised land for him, doubting God’s ability to provide for him during the famine, but fear had settled into Abram’s heart. Abram’s time in Egypt did not last, as his lie about Sarai became exposed and, by God’s mercy, Pharaoh merely commanded Abram to leave with his wife and everything that belonged to him.
Some of us, like Abram, may have taken a wrong turn, going into the land of Egypt, bending the truth and taking things into our own hands. Yet, it is never too late to come home. Abram went back “to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier… There Abram called on the name of the LORD” (Genesis 13:3-4). From the turn of events, Abram returned to where he started.
God does not waste our failures. While they are sometimes the most painful experiences, they are also the greatest teachers and lessons we have in working out the Christian life. El Shaddai is the God who takes care of everything. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins so that we may be reconciled to Him. As the father welcomes home the prodigal son, God welcomes us.
Prayer: God Almighty, thank You for welcoming me back even when I have wandered away from You and relied on my own resources. You alone are everything I need.