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Integrity and the Christian
Some things don't change
When we go too far
I love the story of Abram. To me, it's a story that resonates of a fallible human being that I can so identify with! I love the way the Bible tells us the story "warts and all" and doesn't try to hide anything.
In the last hub of this series (the walk of faith) we see Abram finally setting off for the place God tells him to go to, he's got no idea where it is but he goes anyway! What happens next is a little strange.
Did you know it's possible to go too far in thinking we're obeying God?
I mean he speaks to us, we begin to step out in faith and somewhere on the way we either miss a step or God simply goes quiet and we find ourselves in a strange place doing strange stuff.
Genesis chapter 12 opens with Abram finally hearing God's command and setting off for the land God has called him to, but just a few verses later he's in a predicament where he has to get his wife to hide part of the truth from Pharoah, or at least he thinks he has to! What happened?
Getting there (wherever 'There' is)
Abram gets to Canaan and walks through the land, I wonder if he knew in his heart that this was the place?
You know the feeling, that strange feeling you get when you just know you got it right!
Or maybe you don't get any 'feeling' but somehow you've ended up in a situation that God seems to be blessing "so it must be right"
A situation I think we've all been in (I have, frequently!) I wonder what Abram thought when he got to Bethel where he pitched his tents. How did he know that was the right place?
It was at Bethel that Abram built an altar and worshipped God, was he thankful that the journey was over? Probably! Abram was saying "thank you" to God yet it was all about to change.
Just like us, we get to the place we think God wants us and rightly we begin to thank him, yet in the very next verse problems come knocking.
Finances, provisions and lots of other things can get in the way! "Did I really hear God the first time?" are the kind of things we ask, I just wonder if that went through Abram's mind? I mean here be is in the place he believed God had called him to and all hell is breaking loose! "What the heck is going on God?"
Ever asked that question? I know for me there have been times when I literally screamed it into a silent heaven!
Been there, done that, don't want to do it again! Yet I probably will, that's a seeming fact of life.
1996, I'd been working with the Kurds in Iraq for three years, it was where God had called me to!
Literally three amazing years, yes they were scary at times, but it was three years doing what God had called me to! reaching people with the love of Christ, showing them with practical love that there was a God who really cared. Three years of sharing in the lives of those amazing people.
Then the world fell apart (again) and it was "God, what the hell are you doing!"
Roughly where Abram settled
Abram in Egypt
Literally one verse after the altar is built Abram has to move. Famine is either "move and live" or "stay and starve!" Abram moved but wasn't out of danger yet! it was about to get a whole lot worse!
In those times the rulers of the countries were often 'absolute rulers' with the ind of power over people that our leaders can only dream of. Pharaoh was no different! Often seen as the incarnation on Horus he had absolute power over life and death, and he saw that Sarai was beautiful!
Husband and wife. Brother and sister
The fear was very real, and the possibility of death for simply being married to Sarai was real! Abram gets Sarai to 'cover' for him, but they don't tell a lie, they just don't tell the whole truth!
To me, if this was a 'story to illustrate a point' this would be a candidate for a serious makeover! But it isn't, the Bible is telling it the way things happened. A story with real people doing real things so that we the present generation can learn from their mistakes!
Abram saved his own life that day, but he lost something valuable, he lost his integrity!
The seeming solution resulted in a loss of integrity and while God seems not to have chastised Abram he certainly had to intervene.
Reading the account its very easy to criticise Abram for his lack of faith, but what about us? What Abram faced was pretty serious, loss of his wife or his life! But what about us, what about those times at work when it would be so easy to 'go with the flow'? Or when a little 'compromise' might save us a whole lot of money! Or even save the house from foreclosure. What are we to do?
Variations of this story appear again later in Genesis, we argue between ourselves as to whether it was three times or the same incident that the later copiers got wrong etc. One way the ancient Rabbis used to teach us they would say they same thing two or three times with slightly different emphasis each time just to get a point across. When we get stuck on the arguments about whether "this part or that part" is authentic we're really in danger of missing the whole point! That point is "they can take the house, they can take my family, but they can't take your integrity!" Only you can give that up!
Abram gave up his integrity through fear what Pharoah could do, but he never reckoned on what God would do to protect his servant!
Fear takes away our ability to see God taking care of us and protecting us, he's always there to protect us and help us through.
We are never alone
The Story of Abram
A poem that sums it up
The one who walks with us
The truth is that there are times when God will be silent, there are times when he'll seem a million miles away, yet it won't be God that moved! Why it happens we don't know and probably never when as Christians we will feel all alone, probably just like Abram felt
I've wondered over the last week why it is that God doesn't seem to rebuke Abram for the way he deals with the situation. Could it be that he understands the situation? Could it be that there are times when he understands the situation? Pharaoh gets a visit is a dream from God as he puts the situation right. Could it be that Abram just stayed quiet when Pharaoh took Sarai without so much as asking (he'd been told that she was Abram's sister!).
Integrity is the one thing that no one or thing can take from us! It's the one thing that God is looking for he's looking for people who when everything else is falling apart they will not give away their integrity, you may feel that you're all alone when that time comes but nothing could be further from the truth.
The fact is in that time "HE'S THE ONE CARRYING YOU THROUGH" the truth is "WE ARE NEVER ALONE!