I have been reading in Genesis for my devotions recently, and I have found so many amazing and beautiful things that I can't help but share them! This particular lesson that I learned was about the importance of building altars in our lives. Abraham wasn't a perfect man. We so often put these Bible characters on pedestals, when in reality they were sinful human beings just like you and me. They did amazing things through God's strength, yet they also made terrible mistakes. Currently, in this story of Abraham, he has just been called by God to leave his homeland and travel to a place where God will show him.
Genesis 12:6-9 says, "Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, 'To your offspring I will give this land.' So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel...and there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb."
Notice here that the Lord appeared to Abram with a promise. I am sure that after traveling through land that is filled with Canaanites would be intimidating and confusing for Abraham, but God gave him encouragement and comfort through his promise that someday all this land would belong to Abrahams offspring. This was a time in Abrahams life when he needed to see God, and have a promise to remember, therefore he built an altar. Then as he continued to travel I believe that he got discouraged again, or needed to speak to the Lord to gain strength. Here is says that Abraham called on the name of the Lord and built another altar. Then after being encouraged he moved on.
As Genesis continues, it recounts how Abraham traveled to Egypt and because he was afraid people would kill him to get to his wife, he told people that Sarah was his sister. We all know this story, and that it didn't end well. Pharaoh took Sarah, but was afflicted with many plagues and soon discovered what Abraham had done. After returning Sarah to Abraham and sending him away, I am sure that Abraham felt very discouraged. He had made a big mistake in his life. He had not asked God whether he should go to Egypt in the first place, and he showed a lack of trust in God by lying to protect himself. Abraham had sinned and needed to reconnect with God. So what did he do?
Genesis 13:1-4 "So Abram went up from Egypt...into the Negeb...And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning...to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the Lord."
When you find yourself distant from God, or in a new situation where you don't feel God and you are unsure of his presence, return to the place where you saw him last. Return to the altars that you have built in your past. (Don't forget to build those altars when you do see and feel God in your life!) Call upon the name of the Lord in the way and in the place where you felt his assuring presence. This might mean going to a particular place, or it might mean that you start having your devotions again, or praying more regularly, or maybe you need to talk with someone who has helped you to see Jesus before. Don't give up, but use the ways God has lead you in the past to keep you moving towards him.