Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South. Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the LORD. (Genesis 13:1-4)
Sometimes, true believers need to go into what might be called recovery mode … into a season of spiritual restoration which will lead to more fruitful days ahead. Recovery mode is usually made necessary because of our sins or errors in judgment.
When Abram finally returned to Canaan (“the South”), he was in such a condition. It had been a rough time for him in Egypt. Perhaps driven by fear, perhaps driven by feelings of necessity—Abram went into that land to make it his home. But God had not called him there, and the situation was made worse because he lacked confidence in the providence of God (and because his wife Sarai was a beautiful woman). Abram did not yet fully believe that God was in complete control of the affairs of his and his family’s lives, so he relied upon partial deception to steer clear of trouble.
Abram’s sins were ultimately exposed, and Pharaoh ordered him and his family to leave the country in shame. Therefore this man of God had nowhere to go but to the place God had initially called him. He went back to Canaan, eventually making his way to Bethel in the north, to the exact place where he had once lived.
It was at that very place that Abram called—once again—on the name of the Lord. There was the altar there, his previous place of worship. And so once more, Abram bowed in dependence upon the One who had called him.
There is a definite pattern in Abram’s story: first, he errs and gets into the kind of trouble that sin and unbelief always produce; second, he is brought face to face with his sin and faces the consequences; third, he goes back to the beginnings of his faith, to a memorable and pleasant time when it was well with his soul and spirit; and fourth, he worshiped and got his eyes fixed wholly upon God.
When we face such a recovery process, the Lord takes us through these same kinds of steps. It’s humbling to go through it, but necessary for spiritual growth. The branch that bears fruit must be pruned that it might produce even more fruit (John 15:2). The humble in God’s sight are lifted up by Him (James 4:10). We go down, He raises us up (Psalms 147:6).
What was true in Abram’s life, will also be true in ours. When God lifts us up, we will be back. When He produces more fruit, it will be evident to others. When He raises us up, we will be strong … once again … in Him.
For Further Review
1. Can you think of a time when through your own sin or error in judgment, you found yourself in a difficult situation? How did the Lord help you come through that time?
2. How important is it that we are honest about the paths we may have taken that got us into spiritual trouble? How does 1 John 1:8-10 help in answering this question?
3. Proverbs 24:16a is an interesting passage and pertinent passage with regard to spiritual recovery. How does that verse encourage you toward spiritual health?