So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other. -- Genesis 13:11
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
As Lot learned through much suffering and loss, the path that looks easy in the beginning does not always end so pleasantly. Sometimes, too, there are separations that need to take place. The man who would become Abraham had been called to leave behind his land, his people and even his family to follow God and found a new nation. Loyalty and love had caused him to keep his nephew, Lot, with him as he sojourned in Canaan. We read how both Lot and Abram prospered and how the increase of their herds caused conflict that led to separation.
Before jumping too far ahead and saying, “Abraham good; Lot bad”, I note that both men had their weaknesses. Abraham could be controlled by fear and be less than forthright in his dealings. Meanwhile Peter’s Second Epistle calls Lot “righteous” and speaks of the torment of his “righteous soul” as he dwelt among the lawless in Sodom (2 Peter 2:7-8). I’m reminded, also, of the conflict between Barnabas and Paul that caused their parting (Acts 15:36-41). When the Lord divides us from a friend, associate, or family member, it isn’t always because one of us is pulling the other down or because one is right and the other wrong. It may be part of a greater plan that He has, the ends of which are beyond our powers of speculation and discernment.
I think about that a lot these days. You may have seen that map of the United States where it is divided regionally into, I think, eleven different cultures like the Deep South and Greater Appalachia. Whether there is much to that or not, we seem to be hearing more talk of secession and of unsustainability of the current national model. We are seeing greater disagreement between the secular and the sacred, between Muslim and Christian, black and white, left and right, often with violence and bloodshed. Jesus does say (Matthew 10:34-39) that He has come to divide, to sift and to separate, the believing from the unbelieving, the righteous from the wicked, the wheat from the tares, and the sheep from the goats.
We lament these divisions, conflicts and losses, in part because we do not see the destiny to which they move us, but also because of our natural human affection for one another, for the American dream, for a simpler time, or whatever it is we feel is slipping away. Abraham never stopped caring about Lot. He rescued him from the king of Elam (Genesis 14), and he interceded for Lot and his family when God was about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.
Death, disagreement, or distance, partings of the ways are unavoidable. Trust God. Continue to love the departed and pray for an unbroken circle.