“Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there” (Genesis 11:31, NIV).
In his message the other day our pastor said something that more than caught my attention. It was something he had realized from Genesis 11: 31. What he shared was something that made me think about how we sometimes say yes to God's call, start out to fulfill it, then quit when it gets too hard or something else distracts us. This verse in Genesis 11:31 offers the thought that Abram was not the first one called by the Lord to leave Ur. It says that Abram's father, Terah, took his family and led them out of Ur to go to Canaan. However, when Terah arrived in Harran, he stopped his pilgrimage and settled there with his family. We don't know if Terah was faced with some circumstance in his life or if there was something about Harran that drew him, but he decided that he would not go any further. God's purpose came to a halt with that decision. God then turned to Terah's son, Abram, and said, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1, NIV). Abram heard a promise with his call. Whether Terah heard this same promise or not, we do not know. If it was part of Terah's call, it certainly was not enough to entice him to continue to Canaan. God promised Abram, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3, NIV). Abram didn't hesitate, but rose up, and moved forward to complete what his father had left in Harran.
How many times do we miss opportunities that God extends? They are probably too numerous to even count. God will always have someone who will say yes to His call, but then not push forward to complete it. Detours like Harran will appear too tempting. If we don't persevere in what God calls us to do, He will raise up another like Abram to fulfill it. God's purpose will be fulfilled. The question is whether we want to hang on and be a part of the promise of His blessing or allow someone else to receive what we threw away.
Terah settled for the call of Harran more than the call of God. Abram was called to “go from your father's household.” He was not called to rejuvenate the call within his father, but was told to leave Terah behind. Abram was not called to include those who would settle for less than the best or who would allow the world to deter them from God's purpose. Abram was called to leave behind all that Harran had claimed and move on toward Canaan.
Often we hear the story of Abraham, and study how God's call changed his life. Consider Terah and what he missed. If Terah was called to Canaan first but then allowed Harran to pull him off course, he missed an opportunity of a lifetime. What is your call? What has drawn you aside from fulfilling it? What has kept you from persevering to the end? Does Canaan seem too distant or is Harran too tempting? Whatever has pulled you aside will keep you from God's best for your life. Don't expect someone else to make His purpose live again in you. That is your call and your decision. If you say no, God will always raise someone up to complete what you have missed. Why allow someone else to have what was originally meant to be yours? Persevere and hold on. Allow the enticement of God's blessing to claim your heart. Say no to every Harran in your path, and keep your eyes firmly fixed on Canaan. Let your yes to God's call be as real as His promise is to you.
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