When we read the stories of the Bible, we can sit comfortably in our home, drinking our coffee, eating our scones and think, “Now Abram, if you would just have bigger faith in your God, you wouldn’t have created such a mess of things in your life!”
I shake my head, because the truth is, when I put myself in Abram’s sandals, I understand why he did what he did.
A long time ago, Dan and I sat in a Family Life Conference; upon hearing the call to join their ministry, move and live in Little Rock, Arkansas, and serve families; we both knew that we were to go. Dan was 100% in, so was I, until I became fearful.
The fear of raising funds, not having enough money to make ends meet, leaving family behind, and whatever else I could conjure up became bigger than my faith to follow God to where He wanted us to go.
So, we didn’t go. My husband wanted to please me but was also frustrated with me. So, I took a detour. I went into full-time ministry to children. Even though Dan has supported me and served with me every step of the way, we both have wondered the answer to the question, “What if?”
In Genesis 12:10-20 we see Abram face some fears:
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.
As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”
I can only imagine how Sarai may have retorted, “Well, thank you, my dear husband, for mentioning my beauty…but do you realize what you are asking of me?”
In some respects, Abram was right, for when they arrived in Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was very beautiful. When Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.
There is no other way to look at it; a half-truth is a nothing more than a big lie. You see, Sarai was Abram’s sister, but she was also his wife.
At first, this little diversion worked, Abram was blessed. Pharaoh treated him well. But what Abram wasn’t counting on was God intervening. God exposed this sham by inflicting serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife, Sarai. So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.
What I find interesting about the end of this story is Pharaoh could have killed Abram right then and there, but he didn’t. God protected Abram even in the detour. I call that God’s grace!
As I mentioned earlier, I can relate to Abram’s detour. Recently, I resigned from my ministry position at our church to launch a full-time family coaching ministry. Starting a ministry from scratch, making new contacts, and earning a living from it is hard work; trusting God to provide opportunities to serve families and the means needed to support us is taking a lot of faith!
We saved up money to sustain us for a time; but as our money dwindles and no money is coming in, it is quite scary. The temptation is to take a detour, get a job, and give up on this endeavor.
Have you ever felt that way? Are there detours presenting relief from your current struggle?
In truth, I have been taking a detour from this family ministry for over 16 years. Yes, for 16 years I have been serving full-time in Children’s ministry.
Has God blessed my time in ministry? Yes! Immensely! Just like Abram was blessed in his detour. But I often wonder, where would the family ministry be if I had remained faithful to it long ago? I’ll never know.
How much further would Abram and his wife, Sarai had been if he had not gone to Egypt, but instead had remained in the land trusting for God’s provision?
Warren Wiersbe interprets “going down to Egypt” meaning to doubt God’s promises and running to the world for help.” I would agree. Even though I was in full-time ministry, I was not obeying God’s original call on my life – to serve families, at least not in the way He wanted me to. I tried to do both and found out quickly it was not possible to thrive in both ministries. One always took a back seat when the other called for more time and energy.
I can look back and regret, or, I can stay the course, trusting His provision. What is making the difference today that I didn’t have then? Confidence in God, not the detour! I am learning to have BIGGER FAITH and smaller fear. I know the tests will come, but what I know now that I didn’t know then is God will turn them into His victories.
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