After Lot had gone, the Lord said to Abram, “Look as far as you can see in every direction—north and south, east and west. 15 I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants as a permanent possession. 16 And I will give you so many descendants that, like the dust of the earth, they cannot be counted! 17Go and walk through the land in every direction, for I am giving it to you.”
18 So Abram moved his camp to Hebron and settled near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. There he built another altar to the Lord. – Genesis 13:14-18
“So you and God wasn’t enough.” These words from my Christian counselor sunk deeply into my heart. I was recounting an experience in which I felt overlooked and unappreciated. It seemed to me that I had gifts to give that were neither recognized nor utilized at that time. A fellow pastor was in the spotlight. I was in the shadows.
My counselor’s words brought an unexpected challenge to my self-pity and envy. They were needed as well. For there are plenty of times when a less-qualified person gets the promotion, the less-gifted musician gets the limelight, or the person who just happens to be standing there gets the call. Or she knows someone who reaches across all the other candidates to make her choice. Sometimes we’re left standing alone.
Abram and Lot split and Abram carries on. He’s not exactly alone. He has family, servants, and herdsmen. But this moment seems stark to me. After setting out from Ur, passing through this same area, and on into Egypt with Lot and his entourage, he now watches as Lot and his clan leave for the Jordan Valley. He will chart his own course. So will Abram. And I find the manner in which Abram does so to be instructive.
He does so, first of all, under the reminder of God’s gracious promise. God had chosen Abram, promised him many descendants, and a land as his future legacy. Now God repeats the promises: Land and descendants.
God also tells Abram to walk through the land. Take a look! There’ is much here for you to enjoy. God is generous, and gracious. Abram is to take count of that. It’s not something to be dismissed or forgotten.
In response Abram builds an altar to the Lord – a second one. This will be a place of worship and prayer. Abram recognizes God’s proper place and gives testimony to all of the presence of God and the propriety of worship and prayer.
For us, these same lessons apply. God has made gracious and generous promises to us. He has promised us eternal life in a new heaven and new earth. Jesus promises that when we pray in his name, God answers. He has done all this before we’ve done anything to gain his consideration. God truly is worthy of our worship, and ready to hear and answer our prayers. These gifts – and the evidence of his faithfulness – are worthy of our remembering, recounting, and deeply-thankful regard.
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