Has your life ever been too good? Have things ever gone so well that you’ve been afraid it couldn’t last? I was watching a chick-flick recently, and a woman who thought this very thing said, “My life is too perfect. Something terrible must happen to me sooner or later, so I’m not taking any chances.” She altered her daily routine, cutting out any activity involving risk. Jogging, oh no – too dangerous. What? It’s like when you get a new car, and you drive slower. What happens? You get rear-ended! Or you’re wearing white or khaki pants and eating bar-b-q ribs. Gotta be extra careful, right? What happens? You drop a rib on the pants because you’re over-thinking the pants! Sometimes we fear our way into a snafu. That’s understandable for an unbeliever or atheist, right? They can blame fate or karma or last night’s fortune cookie when something bad happens. But should those who believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing God fear an inevitable evil? Well, we shouldn’t, but sometimes God’s most faithful followers do. After sharing my testimony in 1996 at a women’s retreat, a sixty-five year-old woman asked to speak with me privately. “Why has nothing bad ever happened to me?” she asked and went on to recite the litany of blessing God had bestowed on her. Terror-stricken, she asked if God might be saving up some cataclysmic event for the end of her life. In shock that someone could live such a “charmed life,” I think I fumbled some half-coherent Bible verse and hoped for the Holy Spirit’s application. Now, many ministry years later, I would share a lesson my husband used when he coached sports teams. If we try “not to lose” instead of “playing to win,” defensive mode robs us of life’s gusto, zeal and confidence. We begin trying to fix things that aren’t broken, using our own creative solutions instead of letting the Creator calm our fears.
Gen. 12:10-13 – “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.’” (emphasis added)
- Famine sent Abram to Egypt, but FEAR prompted Abram’s deceit before they ever arrived. “…as he was about to enter Egypt…” says Abram conceived the plot before he was confronted with any real danger. Living our lives clutching fiercely at God’s blessings can rob us of the miraculous ways God might choose to work on our behalf.
Gen. 12:14-16 – “When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that she was a very beautiful woman. And 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, menservants and maidservants, and camels.”
- Our fears can prove very valid, and God gave us intelligence and forethought to avoid danger before it happens. On the other hand, Satan loves to affirm our fears and feed them by bringing about the very circumstance that keeps us awake at night. Was Abram’s plot good planning or a failure to trust God? It’s a walk on the spiritual tightrope to decipher that truth. Perhaps the more important lesson is this: Regardless of Abram’s decision, God was always more interested in their relationship and the PROCESS of building faith than in Abram making a SINGLE right decision.
Gen. 12:17-20 – “But the LORD inflicted 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.”
- Sometimes – not always, but sometimes – God rescues us when our fears plummet us into bad decisions. God returns us to a place of “FINE” living. But consider Abram’s new state of “FINE.” He now has even more “FINE” to protect, and his name is “Mud” in the palace of the world’s most powerful leader. Furthermore, because he has not overcome this particular fear, it’s even more difficult to believe God can protect “FINE” the next time (as I examine in the "SHEEP GOING DEEP" section of the e-devotional. If you'd like to sign-up for the mailing, just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org ).
Lord, in Your remarkable grace, You sometimes rescue me from myself and then give me the chance to relearn the hard lessons. When life is going well, I want it to stay that way. I like FINE. Help me to like You more than I like FINE. Help me to want You, to trust You more than I want peace or pomp. Help me to trust in Your goodness, when life seems too good or when danger seems imminent. Through Your strength, I will not live in fear but by faith.