“Thus Abraham went to his young men and they rose and went together to Beersheba. And Abraham dwelled in Beersheba.”
And so, Abraham travels back to Beersheba, the place of the covenant, located in what would later be southern Israel. Yet, for now, Abraham is still living amongst the pagans, Philistines and Canaanites. One must ask oneself, though, how an event like this would leave a man changed. When you have gone through an experience like this, there is no way you can go back to living as you once did.
At the same time, this becomes the climax of Abraham’s recorded life. What we have next are the accounts of the death of Sarah, the finding of a wife for Isaac, Abraham’s remarriage, and Abraham’s death. No more encounters with Melchizedek, no more engagements with enemy armies or kings. Largely, Abraham lives the rest of his days in some semblance of peace. God gives him rest from his wandering and we are told that Abraham dwells in Beersheba. The alien traveler has found a home. And, it would seem, Abraham and Sarah spend the next 20-25 years (until Sarah’s death) dwelling comfortably in the land promised to their descendants.
Because the Bible often does not give us a concrete timeline at the beginning of each chapter, we often do not do the homework to discover how many years take place in between events and thus are drawn to believe that one thing takes place then the other takes place immediately afterwards. Such is not the case. Just as God does with our lives, sometimes there are great periods of times between major trials and times of testing and growth. It is in these times that God gives us some rest and peace and it is in these times that our changed lives are to be used to minister to others.
The sad thing is that in these times of rest that God gives us, we often do one of two things. Sometimes we go back right where we were as if no lasting growth has taken place and sometimes we do not recognize the rest for what it is, and we create crises of our own design. Neither of these are healthy nor are they faithful to God’s use of times of trial and rest. Indeed, after great trials, we must be changed and we must never fall back into those old sins and doubts that God has delivered us from. At the same time, when we create crises, we rob ourselves of the rest we need and we rob those around us of the faithful mentoring we can give to them. When there are times of crisis, our focus narrows inward toward what we are struggling through and directly on God’s provision for us. When we are at times of rest, we need to focus outward to our brothers and sisters around us who are undergoing great times of difficulty and mentoring them through their trials.
May we not only be changed by the trials that God brings us through faithfully, but may we use the times of rest that God gives us not simply to feed ourselves or to manufacture problems of our own, but to feed others. May we indeed live in a way that honors God and teaches others to do the same.