Disobedience and Detours

by Sarah Shaul

God’s plan seemed clear and simple: if Abraham left everyone and everything he knew and went where God directed, then He would bless him with a “nation” of descendants (Gen. 12:1-2 NIV). Without much delay, Abraham quickly went “as the Lord told him” (v. 4). Perhaps too quickly. For with just as little consideration,“…Lot went with him” (v. 4). In his eagerness to receive God’s promise, Abraham overlooked one of the conditions for its fulfillment: he must leave his “father’s household,” of which Lot was a part (Gen. 11:31). Until Abraham met this final condition in full obedience, the divine promise and blessing he eagerly awaited and fervently pursued would be deferred.

In fact, the delays began almost immediately. Early in his journey, Abraham halted his God-directed travels and served as diplomat, when Lot’s herdsmen argued with Abraham’s over grazing land. Abraham suggested the two groups live in different areas (Gen. 13:5-12). Once Lot left to settle near Sodom, the Lord arrived to remind Abraham of His promise (Gen. 13:14-17). Abraham did not perceive the connection between Lot’s absence and God’s presence, however, for Abraham wasted little time coming to Lot’s aid once again.

Lot’s choice to settle near Sodom allowed him to be captured by an invading army (Gen. 14:12). Abraham, loyal to his kin, left his promised land, put himself and his men in danger, and rescued Lot (Gen. 14:14-16). When Lot returned to Sodom, again the Lord visited Abraham to remind him of His promise for a son (Gen. 15:4-5). And once again, Abraham failed to see God’s arrival timed to Lot’s departure.

Sometime later, Abraham learned Lot and his family would be killed in God’s destruction of Sodom. Determined to save Lot, Abraham bravely (or perhaps foolishly) bargained with God for Lot’s life (Gen. 18:23-33). Through Abraham’s intervention and God’s assistance, Lot escaped Sodom and eventually settled in remote mountains. This time, Abraham did not pursue Lot. Finally, he left Lot to the consequences of his wicked, sinful, and selfish choices (Gen. 19:30-38). A short time later, God fulfilled His promise: Abraham’s wife, Sarah, gave birth to their long-awaited and divinely-promised son, Isaac (Gen. 21:1-7) .

Like imperfect Abraham, we, too, may neglect God’s clear instruction in our hurried eagerness to receive His promise. Perhaps we continue a relationship, job, hobby, habit, or grudge He has called us to leave, and then wonder why His promise and blessing go unfulfilled. Thankfully for us, Abraham’s God is our God. He is patient and persistent while we experience our self-inflicted detours from His plan. No matter where we go or how long we take, however, once we return to His path, He is faithful to fulfill the promises He made to us.