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The Dangers of Obeying God Halfway

Christian Living

by Jody Ponce

The Dangers of Obeying God Halfway

Don’t stop halfway! There is a story found in Genesis 11 and 12 about the call of Abraham; it is a tale about not stopping halfway. In Genesis Chapter 12 verses 1-4, we see God call Abram. “The Lord said to Abram, leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” This, no doubt, was a daunting call for Abram. At the time he lived in Ur of the Chaldeans (Genesis 11:28). Ur was a cosmopolitan, prosperous city. It was a city of wealth, culture and opportunity. It was from here that Abraham was called to go to, “the land I will show you.” Abram did not even know where God was calling him to; he simply had a promise that, if he would get up and go, God would show him. Abram would eventually discover, this land was Canaan, the promise land!

Interestingly, Abram likely didn’t even know the God who was calling him very well. He came from a city and a family of idol worshipers. Yet, here we have the God of the universe calling to him. Abram’s response to God’s call was only partially obedient on two counts. He did get up and leave the city of Ur, but he brought his idol worshiping family with him, even though God specifically told him to leave them behind.

The second way in which Abram was only partially obedient to God was that he stopped halfway.

They set out for Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there (Genesis 11:31). It is clear that the initial disobedience in not leaving his family behind has a direct connection to his second disobedience of stopping halfway.

When God calls us out of this world into His kingdom of light, it is not good for us to try to hang onto some things from our old life, whatever they may be. Giving our life wholly to Christ is the way that we ensure we will live out His call on our life. When we keep parts of our life back, and do not fully open them to the Lord and give them into His hands, then these things can often lead us to stop halfway.

The name of the city where Abram and his family settled was Haran. Haran has a number of different meanings, it means very dry, parched; and interestingly, it also means road. When we are on a road, we are meant to be moving. A road is built to walk down, not to stop on. But that is exactly what Abram did. He stopped and settled halfway down a road. When you live a life of compromise and semi-obedience to God, you will find yourself in a very dry, parched place in your relationship to God.

The good news is, that if we look at Abram’s story, we see that, while his disobedience delayed God’s plan for his life, it did not derail it. Abram spent a long time in Haran, halfway down the road to where God was calling him; but when his father died, God’s call came again, and this time Abram got up, got moving and went to Canaan. When we think about how old Abraham and Sarah were when they had Isaac, you can’t help but wonder if the delay was due to these many years spent halfway in Haran.

But isn’t it wonderful to see how God still weaves His plan and fulfills the call on Abram’s life.

The name Abram means "father." Isn’t it incredible to know that even as a baby, God had named and called Abram. He knew that no matter what mistakes and delays Abraham would make along the way, he would one day fulfill his name and indeed be a "father of many nations."

Romans 11:29 tells us that “the gifts and callings of God are without repentance.”

Be encouraged that no matter how much you feel you’ve messed up, no matter how far down the wrong road you’ve gone, or no matter how long you’ve been settled halfway, God’s callings and gifts in your life are still there. God will not repent of giving them to you, no, instead, He is simply waiting for you to obey.

When Abraham was called in Genesis chapter 12, he was also given a promise. The promise stated, “I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you. I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse. And all people’s on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-4). It is so wonderful to see that God kept every promise to Abraham. He entered Canaan, which became Israel, his name is known and respected by the three main world religions: Jews, Christians and Muslims. Those countries who have blessed Israel have been blessed. With regard to those who have cursed Israel, Donald G. Barnhouse states, “When the Greeks overran Palestine and desecrated the altar in the Jewish temple, they were soon conquered by Rome. When Rome killed Paul and many others, and destroyed Jerusalem under Titus, Rome soon fell. Spain was reduced to a fifth-rate nation after the Inquisition against the Jews; Poland fell after the pogroms; Hitler’s Germany went down after its orgies of anti-Semitism; Britain lost her empire when she broke her faith with Israel."

The promise goes on that all families of the earth will be blessed through Abraham, we see this promise fulfilled because Jesus, the Messiah of the world, came through the line of Abraham. You and I have also received the blessing of salvation by believing in Jesus and receiving His great salvation. But like Abraham, we have been blessed to be a blessing. This great Gospel is something that should be burning in our hearts, something that we can’t contain, something that we have an urgent desire to share with others. We, like Abraham, have been blessed to be a blessing, so let’s share this great blessing of salvation and not keep it to ourselves.

Thank God Abraham didn’t stay in Haran forever! Thank God he eventually followed God’s call, and thank God, through his lineage, we all received the gift of the Messiah. But I would like for you now to check your heart and ask yourself, have you, like Abraham, stopped halfway? You accepted the call of God to salvation, and you set off down the road with Him. But where are you now? Are you dry, parched, settled somewhere halfway down the road? I want to say to you that it’s not too late. God's call is still good! Get out, get up, get moving! Believe me, there will be many on this earth who will be glad you did, because remember, you have been called to reach the lost. You have been blessed to be a blessing, and so if you’re stopped halfway, then there are people in this world who are missing out because they need you. They need you to fulfill the call God has placed on your life.

I don’t want to stop halfway.

I know Jesus is not just an annex to my life. He is my life. Paul says in Philippians 1:21, “ For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Colossians 3:3 says, “your life is hid in Christ.” That’s the crux of it. All the other things in life that shout so loudly, that hold us back, that make us stop halfway, are just noise and meaningless distractions. And you know, if you are living in a place called "Halfway" right now, there is no peace there!

Today is the day to allow God to renew the call He has placed on your life, just as He did for Abraham after his father died. Today is the day to let the things that are holding you back die and loose their grip on your life. Today is the day to fully commit to Christ who fully committed to you, and to once again, take up your cross and follow Him, then, wait with faith-filled excitement to see what great things He will do in and through your life, just as He did with Abraham.