Abram’s journey has seen many miles, many locations, and many altars. He he has gotten off track, circumstances in the family have caused him to wait when he wanted to go, he has been told “not yet” and been taken on detours, and now he is faced with probably his toughest decision. The land will not sustain both he and his nephew, Lot. They will have to split up.
Great is Abram’s faith that God is in control at this moment. He is the elder in the family, so it could be said that it would be his right to choose first. He knows that God has promised him Canaan which lies just to the west. However, he yields that honor to Lot. Lot chooses east, and Abram finally makes his home in the promised land of Canaan.
There are applications for us in this story. First, the more literal among us will realize that this mildly echoes a New Testament story where ministry partners Paul and Barnabas end up parting ways. The dispute was not doctrinal, but was handled maturely with an agreement to divide and conquer.
Of course, a more generic application is simply this: sometimes we have to make very tough decisions if we want to follow God. Sometimes we have to choose between our heart and our faith. These are never easy choices, but are always the choices that we look back on as the mileposts or better yet, the altars along our journey. They forever serve as a reminder of where we’ve been, where we’re going and who has brought us.
When I read the story of Abram finally settling into the land that God has promised him, and when I reflect on the broken path that God lead him on to get there, I can’t help but sing a few lines from “Canaan Bound” by Andrew Peterson. If you don’t know it, I’d really recommend that you give it a listen…
Sarah, take me by my arm
Tomorrow we are Canaan bound
Where westward sails the golden sun
And Hebron’s hills are amber crowned
Like the stars across the heavens flung
Like water in the desert sprung
Like the grains of sand, our many sons
Oh, Sarah, fair and barren one
Come to Canaan, come
Long after we are dead and gone
A thousand years our tale be sung
How faith compelled and bore us on
How barren Sarah bore a son
So come to Canaan, come
I can picture Abram himself singing this. Singing about a voice of “Love and Thunder” that compelled him through all circumstances to keep walking by faith. Abram’s faith was rewarded with treasure and promise, and yet it is only a glimpse of what we as believers, the descendants of Abraham are promised as a reward for our faith. I want to walk by that same faith and trust that the God of Abraham and Jacob will also hold my hand and bring me to the promised land.