Where was I going?

"Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram (Abraham) went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe." Genesis 12:10, NIV

God told Abraham to go to the Promised Land, but who told him to go to Egypt?

Some translations say that the famine "forced" him to take this detour. Granted, it must have been very tempting to head to a country that had plenty of food when his family was so hungry. I've actually been known to travel WAY out of my way on the interstate to satisfy a craving!

Or... should he have stayed in Canaan and relied on God's provision and guidance?

Truth is, he made his own decision (apart from God) and because he did, trouble followed. Here's a list of a few problems he encountered as a result of the wandering:

1. Lost time. The journey to Egypt was time spent away from God's original "Promised Land" plan.
2. Lost testimony. Abraham ruined his witness to Pharaoh when he lied and claimed that his wife was actually his sister. When Pharaoh learned the truth, he was REALLY mad! And I'm sure Sarah wasn't pleased either! It's hard to share the goodness of God when you've been caught in a lie.
3. Hagar. Sarah's maid came from Egypt and brought dysfunction with her. We're talking Jerry Springer type of story! (read chapter 21).
4. More wealth. It was a blessing but also a problem. He left Egypt with so much that it caused friction between him and his nephew Lot. As Biggie once said, "Mo money, mo problems!"
5. Guilty Pleasures. Abraham took his family and specifically his nephew out of Egypt but ultimately couldn't take the pleasures of Egypt out of Lot. I wonder if the foreign land was the start of Lot's separation from Abraham and ultimately, from God Himself.

Here's what I'm getting at: Some of the problems Abraham faced were the product of his own wandering. This story is a reminder that sometimes we have to live with the repercussions of past choices.

Here's the good news: God is willing to forgive and set us back on the right path even when we go our own way. We see this with Abraham.

Abraham finally leaves Egypt, returns to Bethel, and reconnects with God. God never gave up on him and still fulfilled his purpose of salvation through his lineage.

The same is true of us. God never gives up on us, even when we wander around and heap trouble on ourselves. He is "compassionate, merciful, and filled with unfailing love" (Psalm 103). He still has a purpose and a plan! He's not done!

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take."
-Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT

Rev. Jimmy McIlrath