Halfway in Haran
By: Lt. Colonel Allen Satterlee
Somewhere in the wasteland that is the Iraqi desert, the weather worn ruins of Ur of the Chaldees is slowly being claimed by the centuries. Once a great city, feared and respected, the only person we know who lived there is famously remembered for walking away from it. But it was here in Ur where Abraham heard the voice of the one true God in a place where temples to false gods crowded the landscape. No doubt there were other believers, but we are told only of this one, his wife and a handful of family members and servants.
Staying in Ur would have made sense. Here was safety behind city walls and a standing army to protect those who lived there. Prospects were good for business and long friendships had flourished. But when God called Abraham, it meant he had to walk away from it all. Obedience always means walking away from something.
The Bible shares, “The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 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” (Genesis 12:1-2). In one way we cannot compare ourselves to Abraham. After all, none of us are going to be called to start a nation that would lead to the birth of the Messiah. However, there are some aspects of his call that we can claim.
A home. For Abraham, this was the land of Canaan. And although we may have a physical address that we call home, for believers it is a heavenly home that is more real than any building we occupy here. We are pilgrims headed there, the promised heritage of the person in Christ.
A family. The irony for Abraham and Sarah was that promised a family, they were childless, the hopes for a family buried in a painful past of disappointment. When God finally fulfilled His promise, it was hardly a place filled with a tribe of children. One semi-legitimate child and the one child of promise came at the time when they should have been great-grandparents. They would never see the multitude promised, like sands on the seashore. We have a family as well. Although we may only see a handful in front of us, in reality ours spans the centuries, crosses borders, has no respect for race or ethnicity or any other difference. As the song says, “In Christ there is no east or west…”
An honorable name. More than a distant patriarch, Abraham serves as the example of faith. There has never been a time in the history of God’s people when his name has not been honored, his faithfulness cited. It was all because of his relationship with the Lord. And for us, no more honorable thing can be said that “There goes a woman (or man) of God.” Our honor is in Christ.
Be a blessing. Through the descendant of Abraham, our Lord Jesus Christ, there is a great river of blessing that continues to pour out on all humankind. The wonder is, that when we become His channel, He allows us to be a blessing to others as well. He allows us to share the joy of seeing what we do for Him to reach the heart of others.
It would seem that with all this going for Abraham, he would have embraced all that God’s call meant for him. Not so. Although he had left Ur as he was told to do, he failed to go to the destination God intended for him. Because he was the oldest in the family, Terah, the father of Abraham, took the lead. “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).
Rather than going to Canaan as they were supposed to, they settled down in Haran. It was not a full obedience. Halfway Haran was a disappointing compromise.
When God calls a person, it is to full obedience that demands full trust. It is not a thing to be negotiated or deciding that a partial payment will do. If God has not called you to be an officer, you have no business trying to be an officer. But if God has called you to be an officer, you have no business being anything else. If He had not called you, being a local officer, a Sunday school teacher, a faithful soldier would be honorable and right. We need people who are faithful in these places of service and to be sure, God blesses those ministries and those who perform them.
The problem is too many people settle in their own Halfway Harans rather than pressing forward to Canaan where God has directed them. Note this. Abraham did not receive any of the promised blessings until he completed the journey to Canaan as he was directed. And he never became a blessing to others until he obeyed the call.
For the one who is reading this who has made his home in Halfway Haran, we ask, what blessings have you not experienced because of your partial obedience? And what people have missed the blessing you might have been to them because you were not where you were supposed to be?