(We have all heard about the “faith of Abraham”, right? Read Hebrews 11:8-10 in case you need a refresher course. What follows next is an excerpt from today’s message. I realize that it’s a bit different, but I’m OK with that. Looking forward to your comments. Happy New Year!)
I need to make a confession to all of you this morning. As many times as I have read and studied, taught and preached from the story of Abraham, there’s a part of his story that I have missed. In Genesis 12 God calls Abraham to leave Haran and head out to the Land of God’s Promise. The part I have been missing is from Genesis 11, verses 31-32. It is connected to the Story of God’s Promise to Redeem and Restore His fallen Image Bearers. It is a connection I never made until this past Tuesday. And don’t blame it on the flu. Here are the verses:
31 One day Terah took his son Abram, his daughter-in-law Sarai (his son Abram’s wife), and his grandson Lot (his son Haran’s child) and moved away from Ur of the Chaldeans. He was headed for the land of Canaan, but they stopped at Haran and settled there. 32 Terah lived for 205 years and died while still in Haran.
I have no idea why the editors of the first official Bible put those 2 verses in chapter 11. These 2 verses go with the story in Chapter 12—the Promise of God to redeem and restore the fallen Image Bearers. God gave The Vision to Terah and Terah set out following that Vision.
There’s a tragedy in the life of Terah that’s so very clear when our eyes, mind and heart are open to it. “He was headed for the land of Canaan, but they stopped at Haran and settled there.” Terah was heading into God’s future, to The Promised Land but Terah stopped at Haran and settled there. I don’t know why—maybe it was simply easier to settle in Haran rather than to keep on that journey. Maybe he changed his mind and decided it was too risky. Or maybe Terah simply wanted to be comfortable.
What have you settled for instead of God’s Promise? As tragic as it was for Terah to settle for Haran instead of The Promise, the worst tragedy for Terah is Verse 32: “Terah lived for 205 years and died while still in Haran.” If Terah had died while headed towards The Promise, there would be no tragedy. The tragedy was he died while still in Haran, the place he substituted for The Promise.
The Bible tells us that Terah lived for 205 years—more than enough time to settle in The Promised Land. If Terah had not settled for Haran, then we would have read this morning about the Faith of Terah instead of the Faith of Abraham. Terah settled in Haran and died there instead of moving into God’s Promised Land. Let this thought sink in: He Died Where He Settled. Terah settled for some second best.
But God doesn’t give up on His Promise to Redeem And Restore His Image Bearers. When Terah settled on Haran, God chose another for the Promise—Abraham. The Vision was now given to someone else. And I believe God still works this way. If we refuse to follow God’s Vision by settling down at our Haran, then God is going to take the vision away from those have settled for some Haran, to those who are willing to trust God, who will live out the Going Without Knowing Faith in God.
The lesson Terah teaches us is this: Don’t settle for Haran when The Promise is in front of us. When We Stop Trusting, We Start Rusting. The Promise Of God Is Not Found Where We Settle, But Where We Leave Everything Behind And Live By Faith.
When I read this passage from Hebrews, there are 3 questions that challenge me, and should challenge you:
1. “Will I Give Up Everything To Follow Jesus?”
Everything means, well, everything—nothing held back, all in. But when we say, “I trust you God, but I’m not doing that; I trust you God but I’m not giving up this; I trust you God but I’m not going there; I trust you God but I’m not changing what’s important to me”, it’s no longer a trust relationship and it’s not faith. It becomes a negotiation; and God is not a negotiator. You cannot know the depths of this relationship until you stop negotiating with God and begin trusting Him. And beside this, you do not want to negotiate with God. You will lose every time!
2. “Will I Give Up What Makes Me Feel Comfortable And Secure?”
All of us have things that make us feel comfortable. That’s why it’s called “Comfort Zones”. There is little risk and no challenges, in our Comfort Zones—and neither is Jesus. What things are in your Comfort Zones? Better yet, when it comes to the direction God is calling us into, what makes you uncomfortable? Jesus does provide us Comfort—but it’s never meant to make us Comfortable.
Think for a moment about Jesus in the Upper Room on that night when He would be arrested. Jesus was calm—He held it all together—but I think He was in great discomfort. Did Jesus find Comfort? Absolutely, He’s deeply connected to The Father. Was Jesus uncomfortable with the task in front of Him? Absolutely! Look at what happens after they leave that Upper Room and that Olive Press became His altar. All those “uncomfortable feelings” poured out of Him. Do you think He was “comfortable” facing the Cross? Was the cross “comfortable” as He hung on it?
What I am trying to say is this: It’s OK to feel uncomfortable, even uneasy, when following Jesus because Faith is never found in our Comfort Zones. If we wait until it feels safe or we feel like we can succeed, then it’s NOT faith NOT trust, NOT love. It’s just another one of our projects. Jesus isn’t interested in our projects—only our absolute surrender.
3. “Will I Choose Today To Go Deeper With Jesus?”
Trust is like a swimming pool. I know, I know, you’re thinking I’m the only one who could come up with that analogy. If you think about it, it makes a whole lot of sense—and it’s the truth. Most swimming pools have 2 ends—shallow and deep:
First, there’s the shallow end. It’s the end where our feet touch that solid bottom and our head is above the water. It takes no effort on our part to keep our heads above the water. Unfortunately, this is where many seem to want to live their faith—where it takes no effort to keep their heads above the water. It’s safe on the shallow end, but here’s the truth: Jesus is not found on the shallow end.
Then there’s the deep end. The deep end is where trouble may happen. It takes an effort to keep our heads above the water. It’s not always safe on the deep end. Things may happen, and we go under. But here’s the other Truth: Jesus is always found on the deep end. And Jesus isn’t interested in helping us just keep our heads above the water. He wants us to walk on top of that water—like that night when Jesus called Peter out of the boat.
Now some of you may be thinking, “Well, I could walk on the water at the shallow end of the pool, too.” You could, but you won’t—because you know your feet will touch bottom and your head will stay above the water. God called Abraham to the deep end, where he would drown unless he held on tightly to God. Faith is Trust, and Trust only happens in the deep end.
Which end of the pool will you live in starting today?