Every day we make decisions that have ripple effects beyond what we can see. In fact, every decision we make is this way. Even when we do our best to think about the repercussions and who might be affected, we simply can’t see into the future.
It’s a little bit like navigating a ship. If the navigator for a transAtlantic voyage sets a course that’s just one degree off, by the time ship arrives it will be hundreds of miles away from its intended destination. A single degree now can lead to a massive difference later. But, of course, we can’t see whether our “course” is off or not. We’re simply doing our best, so it’s a good thing God is in charge.
In Genesis 45 and 46, we see a decision with an impact larger and further-reaching than any you or I will ever make. When Jacob (Israel) hears from his sons that Joseph, his long lost son, is alive and ruling Egypt, he is stunned and overjoyed. Then he faces a decision: should he move the entire family of eleven sons and all their offspring and possessions to Egypt? This wouldn’t just be a holiday visit. It would be relocating, and it would mean leaving the land God had promised them. But it would also mean saving the family from the famine that drove his sons to Egypt in the first place. It was a hard decision, but Jacob decided to go for it.
The course of history for an entire nation was changed forever. Israel, the nation known as God’s chosen people, was born and grew in Egypt first as herders, then as slaves. For 400 years they languished there, all because of the decision one man made to avoid a famine and see his lost son.
But there’s more to the story; with God there always is. Jacob’s decision wasn’t a bad one at all. In Genesis 46:3-4, God blesses Jacob’s decision and promises to lead the people back to the Promised Land to uphold the promise He made years before to Abraham then Isaac. I’m sure Jacob didn’t think it would take four centuries and a spectacular rescue, but that was God’s plan. Jacob took his family to Egypt and God set them free in an awesome display of power.
Psalm 90 speaks of the wisdom of recognizing that God establishes our path. Wisdom means having godly perspective and following what we can see of God’s will. This is what Jacob did and it is what we must do too. Our decisions have impact into the future for us and others. We need God’s guidance to establish our steps. Are we seeking it? There is much we cannot see, but the One who goes before us is faithful.
Written By Barnabas Piper