Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

“I know better! How could I make the same mistake again?”

Can you relate? Have you asked yourself how you could do something you thought you would never repeat? Welcome to the human condition. I call it the three steps forward, two steps back syndrome. Abraham knew something about this pattern.

After the destruction of Sodom, Abraham traveled south. Again he gave in to his fear that trouble would come from a foreign king. He went into panic mode yet again and lied about Sarah, yet again. Didn’t we just read about him becoming more mature in his faith—praying for others—believing God for a son in his old age? Why would he put the promise God made to him in jeopardy by allowing his wife to be taken into a king’s harem, yet again?

Yes, we can see a pattern with Abraham, but we can also see a pattern with God: When we take steps backward, God is always willing to take steps forward. In this case, God appeared to King Abimelech in a dream and told him that Sarah was a married woman and, in essence, that Abraham was an object of God’s special care.

The dream did not keep the king from asking Abraham a pointed question: “What have you done to us?”

Abraham made excuses: “I thought you would kill me.” “Technically, she is my half-sister.” “This all happened because God made me leave my home.”

Excuses, excuses. I know them too well when I fail to trust God. What about you?

The fact that Abraham failed to trust God is really no surprise. The surprise is the merciful way God intervened. Abraham acknowledged God’s intervention and mercy by planting a tree as a landmark of God’s grace. What a perfect symbol of the journey thus far. The longer he journeyed with God the more his faith was rooted in God’s trustworthy character.

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