The story of how Abraham, the patriarch of the Jews, left the familiarity and comforts of the Mesopotamian city of Ur holds many lessons for us. When God called him to go to Canaan, it was as if He was saying to Abraham, “Come to Me to the promised land, where I will bless you beyond your expectations.” But the group stopped at a place called Haran. Beyond Haran lay the desert, which they would have to cross to arrive at Canaan. It would seem that they had arrived at the edge of their comfort zone.
The story of Terah, Abraham’s father, ends at Haran. Perhaps he wanted to stay within his comfort zone. He died there and never reached the Promised Land. Like Terah, a person may go halfway but fail to reach Jesus. He attends church a couple of times and then quits, never moving beyond. Good intentions must be translated into actions, and these actions must persevere. If we are to go to Jesus, we must go all the way.
In contrast, Abraham proceeded with his journey. He “set out” from Haran and “arrived” in Canaan (Genesis 12:4–5). And he did this even though he did not understand God’s plan fully. God had said that He would bring Abraham to the Promised Land, but provided no further details. Hebrews 11:8 notes that Abraham “obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going”. In responding to God’s call faithfully, the patriarch exemplified what Hebrews 11:6 says about faith: “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Abraham trusted God that his journey, though risky, would not be in vain. He knew that it was better to travel with God in apparently dangerous circumstances than to sit comfortably at home, living an illusion that would bring him nowhere. As a result, he was greatly blessed.
Abraham’s nephew, Lot, accompanied his uncle and arrived in Canaan. He chose to pitch his tents on the rich plains—which were good for his flocks—near the exciting but wicked city of Sodom (Genesis 13:12), and later moved into the city (19:1). Perhaps he was tempted by the dazzling lights and enticing sounds of wickedness. Because of Lot’s choice, he and his family suffered unnecessary trouble. When Sodom was burned down as a result of God’s judgment, Lot and his family fled, but in the process, Lot’s wife looked back (perhaps longingly) at the city—and was turned into a pillar of salt (vv. 24–26). This is the lot of anyone who plays with fire: those who truly fear God will hate evil, while those who befriend the wickedness of the world will eventually become enemies of God (James 4:4).
It is also important to ensure that we actually go to Jesus. Many people think that merely attending church is sufficient, or that regular tithing means their spiritual lives are safe and sound. Others try alternatives such as attending lots of Christian seminars, joining new programmes in church, or volunteering for church projects. All these may be valid expressions of faith, but if they are not based on a vital relationship with Jesus, they will not bring us anywhere. If we do not actually go to Jesus, going everywhere else will be in vain (John 15:5).
- What diversions are we likely to encounter when we try to go to Jesus? Reflect on your own experience and think about the distractions you’ve faced.
- How might a person set out on a journey to Jesus without cutting the ties to his old life? What form would such “mooring lines” take? Is there such a “line” in your life?
Excerpted and adapted from Finding Rest for the Soul by Robert Solomon. © 2016 by Robert Solomon. Used by permission of Discovery House. All rights reserved.
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