One of the most frustrating aspects of life is how far down the road you can get thinking that you are doing well, and that things are going fine, only to learn that you made a crucial, seemingly innocent decision years earlier that is only now having a negative impact. The accumulation of consequences can often snowball out of all proportion to the simple, innocent decision giving rise to them. Sometimes, you just can’t see the hidden consequences of those “crossroads” decisions that are going to dictate the script of your life years ahead.
”Since it costs a lot to win,
and even more to lose;
You and me better spend some time,
wonderin’ what to choose.
Goes to show
you don’t ever know
Watch each card you play
and play it slow…”~ Grateful Dead: Deal
This is some life advice that we would all go back and tell our younger selves if we could.
Consider a bible story. Abram (before being re-named Abraham) is living in Ur of the Chaldees, minding his own business. One day, he hears a voice that tells him to leave his land, leave his kin and all his father’s house, and go to a distant land. He does, (sort of) and after a long walk from what is modern day southern Iraq, he arrives somewhere in modern day Israel (Palestine). All good, right?
The same voice tells him to lift up his eyes and look, that all the land he sees will be his, and that his descendants will be more than the stars of the sky, and more than the sand.
But…his nephew, Lot, had tagged along. Correct me if I’m wrong, but nephews are definitely kin, are they not?
Lot gets himself captured by some kings living in the land. Abraham (now so named) has to get his servants together and lead them to fight a battle to rescue Lot. Consider – this was a battle Abraham would never have had to fight, if he’d only listened and done what he was told to ”leave his father’s house and kin”. Consider-this
Later, this same Lot ends up causing even more trouble for Abraham. He winds up in conflict over grazing area for his herds. Abraham tells him squabbling is silly. There is plenty of land. He tells Lot to take his pick of pasture land for his flocks. Lot goes southward and ends up in Sodom. Yeah, that Sodom. Before long, God decides he’s had enough of the wickedness in Sodom and it’s sister city Gommorah. He decides to send destroying angels.
Beforehand God visits Abraham and tells him what he’s going to do. Abraham still has a soft spot for Lot. He pleads with God not to destroy the cities if there are 100 righteous people. God relents. Then, Abraham reduces it to 10 people. Ok, God says, if there are 10 righteous people, I’ll chill. Finally, Abraham thinks to ask for a reprieve for 1 righteous man. Abe clearly thinks Lot is a righteous dude. God agrees. If the angels visit and find one righteous man, God will spare the towns. The angels go to Lot’s house. Things don’t go well. In a hurry, they flee the scene of the coming destruction. Obviously, Lot isn’t what Abraham thought he was.
Lot escapes with his daughters, his wife is turned into a pillar of salt when she turns to look at the destruction. (Note: a pillar of salt is usually a pile of salt in about 5 minutes in a breezy desert environment, for those of you who have never tried to stack salt. It doesn’t ”pillarize” so well. Not the best medium for a long-term statue.) But here’s a look at the traditional pillar. Say hello to Mrs. Lot.
Anyway, Lot and his daughters get out of the city, escape the fire and brimstone and hole up in a cave.The girls are emo because they assume all the men around are now cooked, and they are going to be left childless, husbandless, and destitute. So…they get their dad, Lot, drunk and then they sleep with him. Talk about a decision with hidden consequences! They both get preggers, have boys, Moab and Ammon, who turn out to be the forebears of two of the perpetual enemies of the Hebrews in the Promised Land.
All of which is on Abraham. Because he didn’t count the costs, think ahead, and make the right decision, which would have meant leaving Lot in Ur. That choice would have been hard. It would have hurt. There would have been hard feelings. But those feelings would have been acute, temporary, and done. And those short term bad feelings would have been much less than all of the trouble and war that followed from the hidden consequences of the “feel good” decision to let Lot tag along to the Promised Land.
Abraham was human. He was like us. We can’t really blame him for not seeing the hidden consequences of what turned out to be a crossroads decision. When Abram allowed Lot to tag along, he opened the door for a whirlwind of trouble. His choice opened the door for a kidnapping, a battle, fighting over property rights, a wife killed and turned into sand, incest, and enemies born of that incest, who would fight against Abraham’s own descendant’s. He couldn’t have known all that was part of the package deal.
This is often the case, friends. We are too busy to think a decision through, or we don’t want to hurt feelings, or whatever, and later, far down the road, that poor decision has multiplied its negative effects and, like a bad dog, it bites us! That should keep you busy thinking your way back through to your own crossroads decisions. You’re welcome!