A Strange Place for a Blessing — Adam’s Angle

In real estate, what matters is location, location, location. If you want to reap the benefits of buying and selling property, you’d better keep an eye open for that sweet spot where everyone wants to be. But is the same thing true for the spiritual life? Do we need to scramble to try to get into that right job, right school or right place in order to be blessed?

Not nearly as much as we think we need to. We get stressed out about where we are in life and wonder if God wants us somewhere else. But we forget that God is sovereign over every detail of our lives. We need to learn blessing is not in a place, it’s in a Person.

Here, Lord?

Isaac had to learn that God’s blessing isn’t dependent on where you live. In Genesis 26, he was in a bind: there was a famine in the land. If he stuck around, it looked like he and his family would starve. So, he tried to relocate to a spot where he was sure there would be a blessing: Egypt. The Nile was there. And if there was water, there would be food. Off he went.

But while he was making a pitstop in the Philistine city of Gerar, God gave him a change of plans. He appeared to Isaac, saying, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you“ (Genesis 26:2-3).

If I were Isaac, I might have tried to second-guess God: “But Lord, uh, there’s not really a good water source here, but the Nile is pretty reliable. Besides, my dad went to Egypt during the last big famine, and things worked out swell…“ But Isaac clung to God’s promise of blessing rather than to his common sense. He stayed in Gerar.

Surprise, surprise. Isaac made the right choice: “Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundred-fold, because the Lord blessed him. The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy“ (Genesis 26:12-13). The very place that Isaac had not considered to set up camp was the place where God blessed him. For a while, at least.

Trouble in Paradise

Just about the time Isaac was putting “Visit Beautiful Downtown Gerar!” bumper stickers on all his oxen, trouble arose. His neighbors, who were sharing this “sweet spot” territory with him, wanted him out. They were jealous that he was getting all of the blessing from the land.

Philistines aren’t subtle. They filled up the wells that Abraham had dug earlier, cutting off Isaac’s water supply. Then Abimelech, their king, told Isaac to move away (Genesis 26:16).

Isaac was probably distressed. After all, wasn’t this the place where God had blessed him so much? Wasn’t this the place where God had directed him to live? How on earth could Isaac hold on to the blessing if he had to let go of his place? Maybe he could keep some of the blessing if he stayed nearby.

Nice try, but his plan didn’t work. Isaac moved to a nearby valley and reopened more wells. But the herdsmen of Gerar came after him and drove him away again (Genesis 26:17-20). Isaac moved a little further away, dug more wells, and was chased off again (Genesis 26:21).

By this time, you can bet Isaac was frazzled. He wasn’t in the water-rich Nile country. He wasn’t in the land of his blessing, Gerar. He was nudged out to the middle of the Negev (basically the desert wilderness) trying to eke out a living for his family and flocks. Could there be any blessing in such a place?

Where to Pitch Your Tent

There was blessing to be found there, but it wasn’t a blessing that came from the geography. The blessing was in God and in His promises. God appeared to Isaac again in the desert region of Beersheva, saying, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham“ (Genesis 26:24).

He might have been thinking, “Here, Lord? In the middle of the desert?” But he didn’t say that. He took God at His word again and built an altar, pitched his tent and started digging another well. As the story turned out, after Isaac set up camp in desolate Beersheva, the Philistine king who had driven him away came to him and made a peace treaty (Genesis 26:26-30). That same day, as if to confirm God’s leading, Isaac’s workers found water in the middle of the desert.

God has a way of blessing His people and fulfilling His purposes for our lives. Like Isaac, we need to follow His leading and go with the flow when things don’t turn out the way we imagine they will. We don’t find our blessing by trying to micromanage our circumstances — we find our blessing in God and in His promises to us.

— Adam Pivec
3/14/08