Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Where Is Haran?

I was reading through Genesis 1-11 this morning, the account of human beginnings that takes us from Adam to Abraham. And I was struck by the account of Abraham’s father, Terah. Terah lived in Ur, in what is today southern Iraq, and he had three sons: Abram (later, Abraham); Nahor; and Haran, who died before his father.

Terah decides to leave Ur, for Canaan. Perhaps he is running away from his son’s death, looking to make a new life. His son Abram, and Haran’s son Lot, go with him. They get about half-way, to a place named Haran, and there Terah stops.

I don’t know why Terah set out for Canaan. Perhaps he had travelled there-and-back-again in his youth? Perhaps he had passed through Haran before, and later even named a son after it? Perhaps that is co-incidence? But when he gets to Haran, he is unable to go any further. The place would appear to rub open a still-raw wound. All of a sudden, this man who had had the strength to set out from the familiar becomes old before our very eyes.

If you set out to journey with God, sooner or later an unhealed hurt of the heart will mark the point at which you stop. And at that place you have two options: allow God to heal your heart so that you can journey on; or settle for an unfulfilled dream, and learn, in time, to accommodate disappointment and regret.

(Now, settling is a metaphor for living with God, as much as journeying is. Settling somewhere – taking a place and establishing something there – is important. Some people are afraid of settling, and there’s something unhealthy in that, too. I’m not against settling. I’m just against settling in the wrong place, for the wrong reasons.)

So, where is your Haran?

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