When you should and should not settle

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 NIV

What goals did you have growing up? Was there an inspired vision that you felt God gave you? Are you working towards that goal or have you given up along the way?

We now remember Abraham with the lens of history and the Bible as the father of Israel, a man whom God created a covenant with and promised descendants as vast as the sands of the sea… at a time when Abraham did not have a single child. God changed his name from Abram to Abraham meaning “father of many nations.” Abraham left his homeland when God called him to Canaan. God’s covenant established a means through which the redemptive plan of the Messiah could come from the line of Abraham.

We remember Abraham as a hero of faith spoken of in Hebrews 11:8

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” (NIV)

Now before Abraham was called by God to go to Caanan in Genesis 12, we have a brief account of Abraham’s father Terah which ends at the conclusion of chapter 11.

Terah took his son Abram, his grandon 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 got to Harran, they settled there. Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran. Genesis 11:31-32 NIV

I realized after reading this verse (which I never thought about before) that Terah literally and figuratively settled from his goal of reaching Canaan. He planned on reaching Canaan, took his family from where they were living, but settled in another city. Harran is not even on the way to Canaan, it is about 80 miles out of the way.

We have to remember at this time, travelling from city to city was an arduous task that required you to uplift your entire family, tents, belongings, livestock and journey slowly in a rough and hot terrain. It was not as simple as buying a plane ticket for Chicago, changing your mind and going to Florida instead.

We are not told very much about Terah’s goal of reaching Canaan. What was he trying to get away from? Was this a desire God put on him to go or was it his own? Why did he not make it to Canaan?

We are told in Joshua 24:2 that Terah worshipped other gods. He was not worthy for God to establish a covenant with, however he still had a vision for taking his family away from a sinful society and move. He got close, he had the vision but not the will to see the plan through.

In reading this story about settling, I have two reasons why you should and should not settle. Settling refers to lowering your standards, to decrease your desire for something, or to give in to the demands of someone else. Think of a person who settles in their relationships. Another example is two clients who arbitrate a deal to be mutually agreeable even though it is not what either of the parties really wants.

Settling is a form of compromise. Children are great instigators of compromise. Any and every punishment seems to be open grounds for arbitration. Indeed, we too as Christians may often compromise the standards of the Bible, compromise the call on our lives to live holy, and compromise the command to ‘love your neighbor.’

Two reasons NOT to settle

1. God has given you a calling

Habakkuk was given a prophecy and was told to, “record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, that the one who read it may run.” He was given the command to write down something that was coming, but that needed reminding even if it looked like it was not coming to pass.

I believe God gives each and every one of His children passion and innate abilities that can be used for His Kingdom. Whether we utilize them and refine them is another thing. I am not talking about a skill set that brings us glory, but ability within us that we use for God’s glory is a beautiful thing. It can be as simple as someone who enjoying talking to people going to prison to minister to those there. It can be someone who is talented at art making beautiful paintings with symbolism and beauty of God’s creation. It can be someone who is great with children, can teach and speak on their level, who serves Sunday morning teaching the next generation about Jesus.

All of these examples and many more are ways that people can use the things they do well to bring honor and glory to God. There are also higher callings to a ministry, an office, or movement that may take years to come to fruition. God places seeds inside people to see if they are faithful with the small things before He can trust them to do more.

2. Difficulty along the way

Difficulty is not an indicator that you are on the wrong path, in fact, it is usually the opposite.

As soon as Abraham got to Canaan, there was famine in the land. I am sure that he was wondering why God called him there to begin with if he was going to face such a catastrophe. He then had to go to Egypt to find food and resources. God blessed him there and he was able to come back to Canaan a rich man.

The point is that our journey to do the will of God will be met with difficulty. Jesus said that, “You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world” (John 16:33). Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Hardship on the narrow path should not deter us from our goal. Knowing where we are going and Who we are serving should be motivation enough to know that the rewards (whether in this life or definitely in the life to come) are worth the effort.

Two reasons when you SHOULD settle

1. God has told you to

It’s hard to part with our dreams and desires, but if God tells us to, we need to subject ourselves to the fact that He knows all outcomes and sees what is best for us.

If you look at Moses, he was not allowed to enter the Promised Land. David was not allowed to build the temple. Sometimes you cannot see your dreams fulfilled; you simply start the movement for the next generation to continue on with.

Many times the plans we have made never involved the Lord to begin with. By the time we eventually get around to asking Him about it, is usually when things are starting to fall apart.

Proverbs 16:9 says that “we can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”

Psalm 127:1 says “unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.”

It’s better to listen to God at some point during the process than to ignore Him completely and face the consequences that He was trying to prevent you from experiencing. We can trust that if we give up our dreams when God tells us to, that God will replace them with something far greater than we had envisioned in our human thinking.

2. You are not focused on the right priorities

God first, then spouse, kids, career, everything else is a good list of top down priorities. When something tries to move up the ranking, we need to make sure we keep it where it belongs.

For example, if work offers you a promotion that is higher pay, but involves travel to the point that you know you can’t meet the needs of your family; Spirit-led discernment might be telling you to say no to that opportunity. We should settle in one thing if it helps us thrive in a more important thing.

Discerning Reflection: In what ways have my goals aligned or not aligned with God? Have I asked God for wisdom in my future and my goals? What is a dream that God gave me that I should not settle on? What is an area that I may need to settle in order to focus on something more important?

Prayer: Lord, help me seek your advice in all areas of my life and seek wisdom in area dreams and goals that I have to ensure they are aligned with you. Help me know when to not settle and when I need to settle in order to focus on something that is more important. Amen.

Tim Ferrara
Discerning Dad

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3 thoughts on “When you should and should not settle

  1. Hi. Truly inspiring post. I am reading this at the right time in my life. Many years ago I was on the wrong path.. Once I slowed down and embraced the gifts that god give me as a writer, teacher and speaker my life is turning around for the better. All the glory belongs to God.

    Liked by 1 person

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