Genesis 11:27-32: Aiming and missing

“27 This is the account of Terah’s family line. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. 28 While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth. 29 Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milkah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milkah and Iskah. 30 Now Sarai was childless because she was not able to conceive. 31 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. 32 Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran.” NIV

It is sadly true that, on this Christian journey, we can have good intentions, but fall short of them (31b). Yet it’s not the falling short that is the problem per se. It’s the ‘settling’ for less than God’s best. We embark with the best of ambitions; we are full of idealism. But then we ‘settle’ for considerably less than we initially set our hearts on. That’s the story of many a Christian life. The ‘launch’ was explosive. This person flared across the night sky spectacularly. But then they just fizzled out.  Our short section for today introduces us to the tragedy in Terah’s family. He had to bury one of his three sons. That must always feel unnatural. So we come to get a feel for why Lot was with his uncle Abraham for some of the ensuing story. Perhaps the fact that Abraham had no children of his own made it more likely that he would care for his nephew.  We are also introduced to a vitally important detail in the Abram and Sarai story – the fact that she was ‘’barren’’ (30:12). The promises of God are tested by the hard realities of life. We are shortly going to read chapter 12:7, and we need to remember chapter 11:30. We will be caused to marvel afresh at how, by faith, impossibilities may be overcome. Dr. Joseph Parker observed that, ‘Great lives are trained by great promises.’ When the promises of God’s Word collide with the harsh realities of life, you can be sure that the promises will come out unscathed. Abram and Sarai were unlikely candidates to have a family and build a great nation. ‘But God’s ways are not our ways (Isa.55:8-9), and by calling and blessing a barren couple, the Lord revealed the greatness of His power and His glory…There’s quite a contrast between man’s ways at Babel and God’s ways in calling Abraham and Sarah. The world depends on large numbers of powerful people in order to accomplish things, but God chose two weak people and started a new nation…Babel was built by the energy of the flesh and the motivation of pride, but the nation of Israel was built by the grace and power of God and in spite of human weakness.’ Warren W. Wiersbe.