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Running Rampant into a Mess

Do you ever feel like God is calling you to do something? For me, He urged me to start running. Outside. In public.

Waayyy outside of my comfort zone.

But I just did it, today, for the first time. God wanted me to face my fears (because I had been talking about doing this for a while) and well, I finally decided to walk (more like jog) in faith.

I mention this little anecdote because a) I literally just got back so I’m all hyped-up and excited, but more importantly, b) it seemed like a clever introduction to Abraham—a man God called to go.

In fact, God leads Abraham on a life-long journey with seventeen stops, sojourning though modern-day Iraq, Syria, and Egypt.

All because He promised him a great land, great nation, and great descendants.

Abraham's life is fascinating to say the least, but it’s important to note that he, like all of us, was not perfect. He lied and slept with multiple women and doubted God’s calling again and again.

However, the Lord still chose to bless him.

He turns Abram into Abraham, making him a father of many nations, which is what Abraham actually means (thank you, college Hebrew class, for that insight. Wow, was learning Hebrew tricky!).

Like Adam and Eve, Noah the drunk, and so many more after Abraham (Jacob the cheater, David the adulterer, Thomas the doubter, Peter the denier) attest, our God is great at turning messes into masterpieces.

Which is what I want to talk about today - a time when God met Abraham in his mess.

Now, I know what you're thinking. We're gonna look at something big, like the mess of fathering Ishmael with his wife's maid, or having to sacrifice his long-awaited son.

Well, I'm surprising you today.

We're actually going to study something small, an overlooked detail really, in the grand scheme of Abraham's story. Because God is in the big and the small. In every problem and complication and mess of our lives.

So, we're bypassing the typical drama and going into Genesis 15.

You see, after God promises Abraham the land of Canaan, this sojourner has to rescue his cousin Lot (yes, that Lot. From Sodom and Gomorrah. Whose wife turned to salt) from some war-torn kings.

And no, the mess we're going to be looking at isn't the war (these post-run endorphins are making me one surprising trickster today, aren't they?). Because of God's great provision, Abraham defeats these kingdoms rather quickly, all things considered.

So no. No adultery, war, or human sacrifice. Instead, we're looking at a mess that we've wrestled with. And it begins right after the war ends...

“After these things, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward’” (Gen 15:1).

Dear readers, my love for you is so great (wow, I’m really hyped-up today) that I’m about to offer you a life-changing tip:

Whenever a chapter or section of the Bible starts with after these things or therefore or any other ambiguous phrase...

Look back at the previous section! Context is key when studying Scriptures, and this scenario is no different.

If you can't tell, this mess is in Abraham's mind. That nasty word called fear (told you we've all delt with this particular mess).

Abraham is afraid, plain and simple. But why? I mean, he just rescued his cousin and won a war and a bunch of other heroic stuff. Why on earth would this dude be afraid?

The answer lies in retribution.

As the after these things intro implies, Abraham is experiencing post-war terror because he is dreading counterattacks from the army of the four (yes, that’s right, four) kingdoms that God helped him defeat.

God’s promise of being Abraham’s shield holds a bit more meaning now, doesn’t it?

I like this little Genesis 15 section because it reminds me how God fights for us.

When Abraham’s fear makes him forget the power, provision, and protection of the Lord who, quite literally, just powerfully provided a major victory, our God intervenes.

In His mercy, He helps Abram remember, vanquishing fear with the Truth of His protection.

Now, I don't know about you, but I need help remembering. When faced with any mess, but particularly the mess of fear, I might as well be Dory (suffering from short-term memory loss).

My problems seem too big, and my God too small. Which couldn't be further from the truth.

In our messes, the Maker is making a way. He is the way.

Abraham learned this, leaning on God through countless trials and tribulations. With his Father's promise of protection propelling him onward, Abraham (as we know) becomes a faithful follower of the King. He even trusts Him enough to sacrifice his own son!

In his doubting, difficulties, and despair, Abraham chooses to go, to follow the One who is his sword and shield. Whatever messes we may be facing, I pray that we do the same.

May we go, walk, run (or jog, if you're like me and can't manage a full-on sprint yet) into the safety of our Father's arms. His plans are good, promises are true, and His joy is greater than any post-run high :)


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