On February 1, 2003, our nation was shocked and deeply saddened by the tragedy of Space Shuttle Columbia as the spacecraft disintegrated just 16 minutes away from home, killing all seven of its crewmembers.
In the days following, as we learned more about the crew and its mission, I was particularly struck by the life of the commander, Rick Husband.
Commander Husband was a very integral part of his church in Houston, Texas. Despite his busy schedule, he attended a midweek Bible study and prayer meeting for fathers. He had a tremendous love for his family, as evidenced by his taking the time to leave behind videotaped devotionals for his family, because he could not be there to lead them in those devotions.
He said during an interview, “If I had ended up at the end of my life having been an astronaut, but having sacrificed my family along the way or living my life in a way that did not glorify God, then I would look back on my life with great regret and having been an astronaut would not have mattered all that much.”
Here was a man who glorified God with his life.
We, too, need to think about the direction our lives are taking, because we never know when life is going to stop. In the Book of Genesis, we find this principle well-illustrated in the lives of two people who stand in interesting contrast: Abraham and Lot.
Abraham walked by faith, while Lot walked by sight. Abraham was a committed believer, and we read three times in Scripture that he was uniquely called the friend of God. Lot, on the other hand, was a compromising believer.
Abraham and Lot both had acquired many possessions, and friction between uncle and nephew was growing. It was time for Abraham and Lot to part company, so in great generosity, Abraham said to Lot, “Wherever you want to go, I will go the other way. You go to the right and I will go to the left. You go to the left and I will go to the right.”
So Lot said, “I was checking out this sweet little spot called Sodom.” And that is the way that Lot went. Genesis 13:12 tells us that Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom, which means that he got a little closer than he was before.
Then a curious chain of events unfolded for Lot. As he was in this place of vulnerability, a war broke out. Chedorlaomer, a king who had controlled the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, attacked because they rebelled. He combined forces with three other rulers who swept across the desert. Poor Lot was in the wrong place at the wrong time and wound up a prisoner of war.
When word got back to Abraham that Lot had been taken prisoner, Abraham could have said, “It serves him right.” But instead, Abraham took action. He gathered 318 of his servants, armed them, and went and attacked this king and freed all of the captives.
When Abraham returned from this great battle, he was met by two kings — Bera, the king of Sodom and Melchizedek, the king of Salem. Bera offered Abraham all of the spoils of war in return for the people, while Melchizedek gave Abraham bread and wine. Interestingly, Abraham rejected Bera’s offer, but accepted the bread and wine from Melchizedek and gave him tithes of all of his spoils.
Essentially Abraham had two kings to choose from, which represent two ways of living: the way of Sodom and the way of Melchizedek. Lot had been drawn to the things of the world, while Abraham turned down everything the world had to offer.
The question one might ask is, was it worth it? We find the answer in Genesis 15:1: “After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward’ ” (nkjv).
Maybe Abraham was thinking, “What if Chedorlaomer comes after me? What am I going to do?” God was saying, “Abraham, I am your shield. I am your reward. I will protect you. I will take care of you. I will watch over you as long as you stay close to Me.”Scripture goes on to say that Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. When God came to Abraham and brought him a word of encouragement, Abraham believed. And we should do the same.
Out of their long and painful journey has come a really helpful survival guide, so to speak. It’s a book called Suffer Strong: How to Survive Anything by Redefining Everything. It’s not just an inspiring story of triumph through trials but a how-to book for accepting God’s plan and recognizing His providence even when it feels like your world is shattered.