We can all be tempted to quit before reaching an intended goal. Today, I encourage you “Don’t settle for where you’re at! Keep on going until you reach the end.” (Whatever the end may be!)
How many unfinished projects await completion in your home or life—visions, goals or desires that lay dust-covered or moth-eaten in the back corner of the garage or closet? I have my own lingering projects and faded intentions. Initial excitement rose high but time, money or energy waned.
My grand-daughter shared her experiences on a high diving board. At the lowest level, she fearlessly jumped into the water just a few feet below. Bounding back out, she set her sights on the next highest level. With only a slight bit of trepidation, she ran, lept and plunged into the cool pool. Looking up she assessed the risks of the second-highest diving platform. Determinedly, she ascended the steps, building courage as she went. Upon reaching the platform, fear’s grip froze her. She came this far to jump, but couldn’t. Unwilling to back down, she stood for a long time before cautiously approaching the edge peering at the ripples of blue far below. Pushing herself past fear, she stepped off, plummeting into the deep. She did it! She overcame.
Have you been there? The scenarios differ but the feelings remain consistent. Did you keep going, or pull back?
“Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot . . .
his daughter-in-law Sarai . . .
and together they set out from Ur
of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan.
But when they came to Harran,
they settled there.”
Terah gathered his family and left the prosperous Ur of Chaldeans, leaving advanced culture, fertile land with lush gardens and idol worship. Was God directing His steps? Had God given him a vision of Canaan or a word of promise?
Just as we aren’t told the reason for Terah beginning his journey, we aren’t told his reason for stopping. “But,” (that sticky little word) he did. He already passed the halfway point to his intended destination. He already overcame numerable obstacles to reach this point. Why stop here, or now?
We read something even more devastating,
“Terah lived 205 years,
and he died in Harran.”
Where he settled, he died!
Immediately after Terah’s death, God spurs Abram to finish what his father began.
“The LORD had said to Abram,
“Go from your country, your people
and your father’s household
to the land I will show you.”
“The LORD had said. . .” Interesting! The LORD doesn’t give some new directive. Yet, after the death of his father, Abram is reminded of something “the LORD had said.” Something about a promise, a great nation and blessing for him and “all peoples of the earth.”
Was the promise originally given to Terah, but he settled too soon? Did Terah settle for halfway obedience or halfhearted effort? Would Terah have been the one to receive the promise if he would have continued?
No one knows.
Obviously, God reminds Abraham these years later of something previously spoken. A promise only fulfilled through total obedience and all-out energy. “Leave it all!” God said, “Finish the journey!”
Faith or Fear
Both Terah and his son Abram said, “Yes,” to God. Both had faith to start the journey. One settled halfway; one finished.
What stops us halfway? What is our “but?”
My granddaughter almost stopped short with tangible, even palpable,fear. My fears hide more subtly in the shadows of denial.
I have learned, however, that whenever there is a hesitation to move into God’s destiny for me, even containing a promise written long ago, fear birthed my pause. The pit of hesitation bears many names: doubt, indecision, procrastination, reluctance, vacillation, or just plain unwillingness to take one more step. “But . . . “
Jesus reached out His hand to a sinking Peter,
“You of little faith,” he said,
“why did you doubt?”
Faith and fear never co-exist. Hope sinks in the weight of doubt. Perhaps like Peter, Terah started in faith, but halfway to the promise doubt crept in and he settled into death’s hold.
Fear overtook Elijah after the great victory on Mt. Carmel (1 Kgs 18-19). As a result, his ministry died and his mantle was passed to another.
Paul refused to take Mark along,
“Barnabas wanted to take John,
also called Mark, with them,
but Paul did not think it wise to take him,
because he had deserted them in Pamphylia
and had not continued with them in the work.”
A powerful man, co-laboring with Paul for the work of the kingdom, quit. He “deserted them.” Ouch! That stings. At times, I’ve deserted halfway; other times, I’ve quit too soon.
Fortunately, years later another opportunity came for Mark to join Paul. Often where we quit, like Terah, we die. Vision dies; purpose dies; hope dies; promise dies; faith dies. We may live, but inside something is missing and lost forever.
Keep going! Don’t quit yet!
Love is the Answer
After Jesus’ death, he faced Peter in a soul-searching confrontation.
“Simon son of John, do you love
me more than these?”
“Do you love Me enough to leave your father, your family, your friends, your business, and your inheritance?”
“Simon son of John,
do you love me?”
“Peter, there will be no settling or going back to where you came from. Do you love me enough for that?”
“Simon son of John,
do you love me?”
When we stand at the crossroads between settling halfway or reaching the finish, that is the question that matters. Where is love focused? Do we, do I, love Jesus enough to keep going, to not quit or settle. Love remains the critical ingredient necessary for faith to sustain and persevere.
“There is no fear in love.
But perfect love drives out fear,
because fear has to do with punishment.
The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
1 John 4:18
To the Finish
We all face walls of doubt and fear. When there seems no way through, around or over, we settle. A graveyard of “What ifs?” spreads out in front of the barrier.
Like Abram, we need to remember again what “the LORD had said,” stirring faith to move again, to restart the journey, and un-pause our vision. Abram went miles beyond his father, seeing what his father failed to see.
“There he built an altar to the LORD
and called on the name of the LORD.”
‘Called’ doesn’t refer to private prayer. Rather, when Abram ‘called on the name of the LORD,’ he was making a public declaration, preaching and proclaiming the faithfulness and greatness of Yahweh, the LORD God.
Abram kept going—unstoppable until God said stop. He lived to see the land that his ancestors would one day possess. He created a platform of declaration to others of the power of God to see us through to the end.
May I encourage us both, “Don’t settle! Keep going!” Let’s resist doing things halfway and missing out on what God has promised.