Links Daily Devotional

The Causes of God

So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife?” (Genesis 12:18, NIV)

Michael Thompson won his first PGA Tour event at the Honda Classic on Sunday, much in part to a series of up-and-down recoveries over the last 36 holes. As Golf Channel aired them in succession during its recap of the event, it was hard not to say—with increasing incredulity—“No way! No way! No way!”

Now if I had to explain how Thompson made all this happen when it counted, I would probably give you an explanation that goes like this: “Practice.” And maybe I’d be right.

Hold that thought and let’s switch gears for a bit. For all the bad rep of a pharaoh in Moses’ time, you have to hand it to the one who ruled when Abraham came to town. He was a spiritually insightful man.

Fearing for his life, Abram cooked up a plan to protect himself. He had his wife Sarai tell Pharaoh that she was Abram’s sister. A half-truth about a woman who was also Abram’s half-sister. What Abram likely did not count on was that Pharaoh would take her into his palace, intending to make her one of his own.

But the Lord “inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household” because of Sarai. Here is where Pharaoh’s insight enters the picture. He made a connection to a force greater than he. While he did not know Abram’s God, he saw a direct link between Sarai’s entering his household and the trouble that followed. Spiritual forces were at work.

What lines do you draw when trouble comes your way? As Western believers, we are quite likely to attribute trouble in our lives to either the warfare of Satan or God’s testing of our faith. I’m not sure I have ever heard a Western Christian say of trouble: “I think the Lord is trying to get my attention about something that is not right in my life.”

Yes, we know from Jesus’ teaching about tragedy that great trouble is not universally connected to sin or deceit (John 9:1-3). But we should also see in Pharaoh’s case that the difficulty God causes is not always to “prove” us but sometimes to “move” us. The real test may be whether, like Pharaoh, we are spiritually aware enough to catch what God is doing. Here’s one way to find out: ask him! And don’t just ask him in days of difficulty; ask him in days of success.

So was it practice that won the golf tournament for Michael Thompson? That would be our Western way of viewing cause and effect, certainly. But it may well be that Michael Thompson won on Sunday because God entered the picture.

Look at what Thompson told me in preparing his testimony for the 2013 Links Players Magazine: “Sometimes I’ve looked back on it and thought, Oh man, why didn’t I do this or do that? But you can do that with every golf tournament, and there’s always one shot here or one shot there. When it comes down to it, it’s all just life experience and a lesson and an opportunity. I think that’s what God does for all of us, no matter what it is. He just gives us these opportunities and experiences to work from to be better, to learn to recognize his presence wherever we are.”

Michael Thompson just may have a little “pharaoh” in him!

Jeff Hopper

March 6, 2013

Copyright 2013 Links Players International

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