A Riddle and a Lesson

A Personal Note: Today is our 46th wedding anniversary. I thank God for Diane, a faithful woman of godly character. What an adventure we’ve been on for these years. I love you Diane!

Dave & Diane | Lutheran Chapel of Hope, Cape Girardeau, MO | June 21, 1975

So Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb.

Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the Lord. And Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together, and there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were dwelling in the land.

Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” 10 And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other.12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom.13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord. – Genesis 13:1-13

Message on a Stump | Smoky Mountain National Park | April 2021

A riddle: What is greater than God, More evil than the devil, The poor have it, The rich need it, And if you eat it, you’ll die? According to The Internet, 80% of kindergarteners answer this riddle correctly. The key is the first part of the question. Nothing is greater than God. 

A question: What does Abram have that Lot needs, but may not even realize he needs? I’ll suggest either perspective or faithPerhaps it is the perspective of faith. I don’t want to conjecture too much, but it seems clear that Lot had a good degree of financial wealth. Their possessions were so extensive that they could not live in the same area. Their possessions would consume all the resources of a single area of land.

They both had plenty. But Abram takes the lead and offers Lot the choice: This area or that? Left or right? Lot looks over the land, sees that the land of the Jordan was rich and fertile, and he chose that land. Abram journeys on, and settles in the land of Canaan. 

Then comes the kicker: This is before the Lord had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. And, “the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.” Ugh. Ominous foreshadowing here. 

I’ve recently been working through the transition from the work of full time ministry to retirement, and now to a nascent potential encore career. I’ve also begun reading the book, The Uncommon Guide to Retirement, which deals with some of the issues I’ve faced. Most recently, Ric Edelman, a noted financial advisor has shared some keen observations about retirement on his radio program/podcast. 

Both of these have pointed out that financial resources – though an important consideration – are but one of several considerations in making this transition. Much of what drives their concern is the fact that we are living longer. And people who retire today are living 25 or 30 years or more past retirement. Is this, then a 25 year vacation? Is there something more to this? 

This is where the perspective of faith comes in. For by faith we recognize God’s part in our lives. We are not our own. We are his. And if we embrace the perspective of faith, issues of finance will take a second place to issues of relationships, spiritual wellbeing, and even our physical health. Abram has made a choice that signals an appreciation for these other concerns of life. They apply not only to people working through their retirement years, but to those who are making their way through the building years of life and every one in between. 

Click here or on the podcast player below to listen to an audio version of this blog post.

  1. My first mental response to your question, “What does Abram have that Lot needs but may not realize it?” was this:

    Respect. These thought ensued. I guessed that respect would be due Abram as the elder in the hierarchy of the family caravan. Lot might have been so accustomed to showing deference and honor to Abram that he may not have thought “out-of-the-box” and would need Abram to lead in the needed or desired the blessing and permission to part ways. Receiving Abrams blessing of parting company may have carried with it a message much like the hymn, “Go my children with my blessing, Never alone. Waking, sleeping, I am with you;. You are my own. In My love’s baptismal river, I have made you Mine forever.”

    The whole scene was such a refreshing one without strife and with the blessing of Godly management of what could have created familial division of the warring type instead of the peace-filled kind. It seems also, that Abram passed the “respect baton-blessing” on to Lot when he gave him first choice, setting him up as the head of his new lands.

    Perhaps I’m off base so I trust you’ll tweak my thoughts as needed.
    Always a joy to read and think here, so thank you for providing it.

    Oh, and God’s blessings on your and Diane’s 46th Anniversary today! Just wonderful! Congratulations! We’ll celebrate 45 later this year!

    • There may be something to the issue of respect, though it had not thought in those terms. Thanks for the additional thoughts in regard to this. Blessings! > >

  2. Barbara Rogers said:

    Happy Anniversary. John and I both love the picture. You keep this to prove you did have hair once!!

    • Yes…and to remember we were young once! Good to hear from you! >

  3. Michael Steele said:


    Michael Steele


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