Genesis chapter 13 begins with Abram and his family traveling…again. Already at this point in his story, he’s left his home and everything he’s known up to this point, taken his family to Egypt, and now they’re leaving Egypt and going back up toward Canaan.
It’s easy for us to gloss over the travel scenes in Scripture. People are moving from someplace we’ve never heard of to someplace we’ve never been, and we can’t visualize it. However, I encourage you to pause as you’re reading about the abundance of travel that takes place in Scripture because those scenes are significant, and we can learn a lot about what’s happening from paying attention to those details.
For example, here in Genesis 13, we see that it’s not only Abram, Sarai, and Lot who are traveling. They’ve got the entire household staff with them! They have servants, herdsmen, flocks of sheep, camels, and other animals with them. When a group that size travels, it’s not sneaky. It also is really hard on the land.
We live in Texas, and Texas has a reputation for lots of cattle ranches. Imagine how much space it takes to sustain a large, healthy herd of cattle. You can’t squeeze them into a space the size of your backyard and expect them to do well. In that case, you also can’t expect to keep your grass for very long. The land, like us, needs time to rest in order to remain healthy and continue to produce vegetation for the animals who need it for food. That’s why herds—of any grazing animal, not just cattle—move around. They wander from this pasture to that field to that meadow over there, all in search of food.
So imagine how taxed the land must have been from sustaining two households’ worth of livestock. We see in verses 5-9 that Lot and Abram both had flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and several tents for each of their households. They were living in close proximity to each other and their servants were fighting, and the land simply couldn’t keep up with the demand of that many animals. Abram’s solution, we read, was for him and Lot to go separate directions.
Remember for a moment that Lot was never supposed to go with Abram! If we look back to Genesis chapter 12, verses 1-4, we can see that God commands Abram to leave his entire family…and then Lot goes with him. And, not to give away any spoilers, this isn’t the last headache Abram will get from allowing his nephew to travel with him.
So why is all of this traveling and ranch management important? Well, if we look at the end of chapter 13, we see that when Lot and Abram separate, Lot ends up incredibly close to a city called Sodom, which, we learn, has a widespread reputation for being wicked. I wonder, would Abram’s journey have been more straightforward if Lot had picked a different place to go? What would have happened if Abram had focused solely on the instructions God had given him, instead of allowing his nephew to tag along?
We may not see the impact of our actions in the moment, especially actions or decisions that we don’t deem important or significant. Maybe we’re just trucking along, trying to get to where God asked us to go, and we pick up a little side task along the way. Small allowances can cause great disruptions down the line. Sometimes we have to say no to good things so that we can continue to obey. Abram probably thought he was being generous, allowing Lot to go with him. But as we can see, it caused Abram many disruptions later on.
As you go about your day today, I want to challenge you to take an inventory of all the things you’ve said yes to…or just not said no to. What are you allowing or tolerating that is not what Jesus asked of you? Bring those things to him, and ask him to guide you in how to respond.