"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 Haran, they settled there." (Gen. 11:31, NIV)
Terah had begun a journey with his family to travel to Canaan, but when they reached Haran, they settled there and did not continue onward. They never did reach their desired destination, but had stopped short and settled for Haran instead.
How many of us begin a journey toward something or some place to which God has called us, but then we stop at some point along the way and settle there instead of pressing on? There can be any number of reasons for doing this: the journey becomes too difficult, the destination too obscure, we are not properly provisioned, or we simply grow weary. But whatever the reason, God wants us to continue on to where He calls us to be and not settle in a place of our own choosing. He provides encouragement, guidance, and strength in His Word to help us accomplish this.
When Joshua took over the task of leading the Israelites into the Promised Land after Moses' death, God gave Joshua the courage to move forward because of His promise to never leave us or forsake us (Josh. 1:5-6, 9). Our own individual journey need not be overwhelming if we take God along as our traveling partner. His promise to Joshua extends to us, as well. Jesus confirmed this just before he left the earth to return to His Father in heaven; he promised that he will be with us "always, to the very end of the age" (Matt. 28:20).
You may recall the time when Jesus walked on the water toward the boat that held Peter and the other disciples. The sight of Jesus frightened them until they had recognized who it was that was approaching them. Peter then ventured out of the boat, at Jesus' beckoning, but he began to sink when he took his eyes off Jesus and concentrated on the waves instead. His focus moved from his destination to his present circumstance, until he could no longer see beyond that circumstance as it began to envelop him. He was finally able to overcome the situation and reach Jesus once he changed his focus from where he was to where he wanted to be (Matt. 14:25-31). We must keep our focus, as Peter did, not on our current situation but on the Master of every situation.
In order to prepare ourselves for whatever God would have us to do, we need to be properly provisioned—physically and spiritually. Getting back to Joshua and his trek into Canaan, God told him to get ready to cross the Jordan River. Joshua, in turn, announced to the Israelites that they must get their supplies ready because they would be crossing the Jordan River to take possession of a land that God was wanting to give to them (Josh. 1:2, 11). Canaan was a tangible place, and the people needed to make tangible, physical preparations in order to reach it. In some situations, so must we. However, we must also be prepared spiritually. Paul encouraged the church at Ephesus to "be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power" and to "put on the full armor of God" each day to withstand temptations and problems that will no doubt confront God's people (Eph. 6:10-17). We must do the same, for no one is immune to temptations and hardship.
Have you ever begun a task and then quit in the middle of it because you grew tired? I think we all have experienced this, and the writer of Hebrews knew that it could happen. Therefore, he encourages us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus so that we will not grow weary and lose heart. Ignore distractions and keep our eyes on the race before us and on the One who waits for us at the finish line (Heb. 12:1-3).
A long story short: here is what each of us needs to remember:
• Allow God to be our constant companion.
• Do not let our current situation block our view of where God is calling each of us to be.
• Prepare ourselves ahead of time—physically and spiritually—for any task that God may ask of us.
• Keep our focus on Jesus, and the race set before us, and do not settle in Haran.