Perhaps you are in the thick of a famine right now. The leaves are withering before your eyes. The grass is turning brown. The ground is hard and cracking. The water level is at an all-time low. The wind is blowing, and the dry dust is swirling. It’s bleak and dismal.

The freshness of your spiritual life is gone. Your fruitfulness has been swallowed up by barrenness. Sweetness has been choked by bitterness. Grief has smothered happiness. Hopes and dreams have been dashed. It is called a spiritual famine. The fire that once burned in your soul is gone. As you read this, you are hoping some spark in your heart may be fanned into a flame once again.

In the Old Testament, Abram left his heathen past behind him and responded to the call of God. He moved in the path of obedience and the Lord was with Him. God made great promises to Abram. But one day he found himself in a famine.

Abram decided it was time to pack his bags and go somewhere else where things would work out better. After all, it was more than obvious he had to do something. The pasture for his flocks and herds was drying up. Everything was shriveling up. The refreshing showers were not falling. The ground was beginning to crack.

“Dear, why are you packing your bags? Where are you taking us? Can’t you trust the Lord anymore? Maybe you should be staying at the altar rather than moving away. Do you think the Lord has forgotten us out here? Are you sure we are making the right choice?”

I don’t know what questions Abram’s wife, Sarai, may have asked as they were preparing to leave. All I know is that Abram decided to leave the place to which the Lord had led him. He was taking his family ‘down’ into Egypt. In the Bible, Egypt can be a picture of the world. Abram chose that direction when his situation was bleak and discouraging – he headed down.

And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there for the famine was grievous (brutal and severe) in the land. Genesis 12:10-20

It was a poor choice with lasting consequences. Abram ended up telling half-truths which were whole lies to Pharaoh and God. Even the heathen Pharaoh, who initially treated Abram kindly, was disgusted with Abram’s misleading approach and subtle ways. He booted Abram and his family out of Egypt.

“Pack your bags and get out of our country; if that’s how a God-person behaves, I hope I never meet another one.”

Abram, while off-track, exposed his nephew Lot to the riches and lifestyle of Egypt. Little wonder that Lot ended up in the city of Sodom.  Also, it was probably down in Egypt where they met Hagar, the Egyptian maid (Gen.16:1), who became the focus of a family feud and split.

Thankfully, Abram was restored to the Lord, left Egypt and returned to the place of the altar where he enjoyed communion and intimacy with the Lord. But the reality is – many of the choices we make when we are discouraged or away from the Lord or cold at heart – many of those choices have lasting consequences. Even though we ourselves return to the Lord in our experience, there are things we cannot undo and there are consequences we or our loved ones must live with.

May the Lord help us not to make wrong choices under pressure when the famine is raging. Read and underline in your Bible the prayer of Habakkuk 3:17-18. Get back to the altar. Spend time alone with the Lord.

Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today.

Warmly in Christ
Peter Ramsay

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