“Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot (Haran’s son), and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they set out together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there.” Genesis 11:31 (CSB)
It had been a hard time. Previous verses tell us that Terah had recently lost an adult son and found out that one of his new daughters-in-law wasn’t been able to bear children. That was especially unfortunate in their society because she (Sarai) was married to his oldest son Abram, who would later become Abraham. HE was the heir and supposed to carry on the family name and lineage. It must have been, indeed, a difficult time for all of them. Perhaps a change of scenery and location would be in order? THIS place certainly hadn’t been filled with good memories. So, a plan was made, a destination was chosen, bags were packed, and off they went.
According to the maps, the party most likely traveled along the Euphrates River. It would have made for easier travel–especially with a larger group and all of their household. What changed the plan? We have no idea. We’re simply told that at about the half-way point, “they settled.” Maybe they were tired. Maybe they were sick. Maybe the journey was tougher than they had expected. Who knows, maybe it was just pretty and the people were nice there, but either way, they stopped moving forward and they settled.
Being settled isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s quite nice to feel that way. It indicates a stability and has a certain indication of peacefulness about it. It feels like you made choices and you’re happy with them. It speaks of fulfillment. Settling is a whole different picture that speaks of quitting, giving up, choosing to make do with less. It has little to do with peace and abundance. Do you see the difference? Are you settled or are you settling?
These are the things that ran through my mind this morning as I read this verse again for the who-knows-how-manyth time. In fact, I saw quite a few similarities from this ancient text to our current year. Chapter 11 starts off with the news reel from the Tower of Babel/Babylon (yes, they are the same Hebrew word…interesting…) where all the people in the world had gathered together and made a plan and a goal…and then God showed up and chaos descended. (what?! YES!) Suddenly, they didn’t understand each other anymore. What followed was the separations into much smaller groups, a more insular/isolated society, a significant decrease in communication between those groups, and–in a shocking fulfillment of God’s previous instruction to “fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1)–a spreading out into uncharted territories. Does this sound familiar to anyone else?
It’s been a tough year around the world. For many people, “nothing” has gone according to plan or expectation. Just when they thought things were going to HAVE to get better, they didn’t. Most of those optimistic resolutions from January have long-since faded and many people (around the world!) are just tired of being sick and tired of the constant chaos and the uncertainty. We miss the comfort of the familiar and the predictable. We miss feeling “settled” to a certain extent…but that doesn’t mean we have to “settle” in our lives. There are still options for moving forward and making progress.
Will that take more effort than it did in the past? Probably.
Will we need to move out into some uncharted territories and start finding new ways to communicate and reach those goals? ABSOLUTELY.
Will it make us stronger in the long run? I say “YES!” and praise God for that!
Do a self-evaluation today! Are you settled (where you need to be?!) with your choices or are you settling for less than God has for you? What are some of the goals that you previously had and have now abandoned? While some of those may be “good abandonments” (yes, I just made that word up!), are there some goals that you need to reconsider and start fresh with today? Are there some areas for change–NOT just for the sake of change, but for GOOD!–that you need to take up again…or areas where you need to stop and make adjustments/head new directions?
While we can celebrate the fact that God never changes (Numbers 23:19, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8), He often uses chaotic means to push US toward the changes that we need to make. Chaos is OFTEN an opportunity for us to CHOOSE to stand still and see God at work FOR us. It is also an opportunity for us to CHOOSE to listen for His still small voice and know that HE is in control and we are not. Don’t settle for anything less.
One more thing: DO NOT MISS the fact that God showed up BEFORE the chaos at Babel/Babylon! Because He does not change, you can be pretty sure that He is still with us now even in the chaos of 2020 and how it will affect our future. He loves us! He has a plan (yes, STILL!), and it is for our good. Celebrate that today! CHOOSE to celebrate God and His gifts even in the chaos! Perhaps the chaos is meant to guide us in the directions He has chosen to bless us in the days ahead. Do NOT settle for anything less!
Grace and Peace!