I’ve been a runner since I started racing around the track as a fourteen-year-old. A few years ago, I signed up (and paid) to run the Chicago Marathon. It was a long-time goal I was excited to accomplish.
As I started the necessary long training runs, I developed migraines that increased, both in frequency and severity. I suffered at least two a week, and would often force myself to push through the pain and run through them. When I accepted that there might be a connection between the increased migraines and increased mileage, I sought medical advice.
I was told that if I wanted my migraines to get better, I needed to stop running.
I was devastated and wrestled with what to do. I loved running. It was such a huge part of my life; I couldn’t imagine living without it.
“Every wise woman has built her household, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands” (Proverbs 14:1).
Wisdom builds a house. Foolishness destroys what wisdom has built. This proverb is not one of condemnation but instead, offers a reminder. We are always either building or destroying. We cannot both build our house and destroy it at the same time. It’s one or the other. I wanted to be someone who was building. I definitely didn’t want to be someone who was destroying what I had been working on.
In today’s reading from Genesis we find Abraham in a familiar situation. Abraham again misled and deceived a king about his relationship to Sarah to preserve his own life. Though it is frustrating to watch Abraham make the same mistake a second time, again jeopardizing Sarah’s life, his marriage, and the fulfillment of the promise, we often find ourselves repeating the same mistakes as well, tearing ourselves down instead of building. Even though Abraham had seen God miraculously come through to rescue Sarah, save his life, and give them abundant resources, Abraham acted out of fear. His fear led him to foolish behavior, behavior that showed a lack of faith in God, behavior that almost led him to the destruction of his household and the promise of God.
But Abraham is not the hero of this story: God is. Once again, God intervened. He saved Sarah, warned Abimelech, and restored Abraham. God showed His power and control over the creation of life to a couple who had been promised a son. If God could keep others from conceiving, perhaps He could indeed do what He promised and allow Sarah to conceive. While Abraham is not reprimanded by God for his actions in this story, we see how his lack of faith jeopardized the promise, how he tore himself down when he should have been building.
I stopped running for several months in order to let my body heal. I unknowingly had been hurting myself by continuing to run. Instead of tearing down my house with my own hands, I thankfully listened to wisdom and was able to build it up instead. The building in that season was healing.
After a few months, I began to run again. A year later, I ran a full marathon. In that season, the building was running again. Building will not always look the same in every season of our lives. With discernment, let’s seek the wisdom found in God’s Word and look to Jesus as our guide.
When our faith is in God alone, not our own ability to save and protect ourselves, we find life and freedom. God continued to intervene in Abraham’s story and He continues to intervene in ours, even when we unknowingly tear ourselves down. He is still in control.
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