10 Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to reside there as an alien, for the famine was severe in the land. 11 When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know well that you are a woman beautiful in appearance; 12 and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife’; then they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared on your account.” 14 When Abram entered Egypt the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 15 When the officials of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 16 And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female slaves, female donkeys, and camels.
17 But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18 So Pharaoh called Abram, and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife, take her, and be gone.” 20 And Pharaoh gave his men orders concerning him; and they set him on the way, with his wife and all that he had.
Before Joesph of the many colored coat fame went down to Egypt, Abram and Sarai were the first to "vacation" in the land of pyramids. But before Abram crossed the border, he came up with a plan to pass his wife off as his sister, because apparently, Sarai was quite the attractive lady.
There is so much wrong with this whole scenario, I am not quite sure where to start. But I will try.
First, how in the world, is this kosher with God?
Second, just what kind of fountain of youth was Sarai filling her cup with, because I think we would all enjoy a sip of that.
Third, how is Abram considered the father of a three religions (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity all trace their roots back to Abram) given this skeleton in his closet? Seriously, if he was running for elected office today, you can already make up the smear ads in your imaginations.
We are not even out of the first chapter of his call, no more than a few verses after meeting Abram and Sarai. While Abram showed incredible faith to just pack up the camel caravan and set out without knowing where he was going or how long it would take to get there, I get whiplash by what a boneheaded plan followed his great leap of faith.
But then again that is the story of my life too. I do something right...like make my wife lunch... only to turn around and say something I instantly want to grab the words from the air and shove them back in my mouth. I say something profound and then mess up the person's name I am talking to.
Perhaps it is easier just to understand this part of the Bible as a foreshadowing of Joseph and Moses. Joseph will go down to Egypt and save them from a drought, Moses will come with plagues to the Pharaoh and a plead to let God's people go. That way, maybe we can explain these verses away, rather than deal with them.
But I also think such juxtapositions of faith and unapologetic humanness is exactly what we don't talk about as being in the Bible enough. We make Abram out to be some kind of super hero...but the truth is God does not call us to be super heroes...God calls us into relationships. And relationships are messy, whether that is human to human or human and to our loving, incredibly forgiving God. For me, Abram is not a hero because of his leap of faith...he is one because he was authentic.
As his home disappeared from sight and Egypt appeared on the horizon, I sense Abram was afraid. And when we act out in fear, it can cause us to do things and say things that don't always reflect our clearest; most well-reasoned self.
I love the fact that God can work with that...because God works with Abram. God doesn't say, "What a schmuck, I knew I should have called out to Lot...now there is a faithful guy." God just keeps on nudging Abram. And in the end, I need to be reminded that it is not my perfection God is most interested in, but my authentic, honest, fully human self. And I do think God can work with that.
May you encounter traces of God's grace in your most human moments this week.