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“Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family. But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9: 61-62, NLT)
Have you ever told yourself, “I’m done with that sin and I’m never going back to it?” I have – about a bazillion times! I get so disgusted with my sin that I dissociate myself from it. However, this dissociation only lasts a couple of days before I begin to miss my comfortable sin. At the point of missing it, I wish I had it back.
Why do we go back? Here are some reasons: the past always seems to be better, we don’t like the present, we’re afraid of the future, we can’t let go, our sin feels so much more comfortable than the unknown. These are all excuses, excuses and more excuses.
Consequently the devil has us right where he wants us –Stuck! It’s impossible to move forward when we’re turning back. The end result is that we settle for ineffectiveness, being unproductive and a lack of fruit. The sad truth is that we have been defeated and ensnared by sin in these times. However, defeat does not have to be the end of the story.
There is a famous story about a Spanish Conquistador named Herman Cortes (1485-1547). He would not accept defeat even in the direst times. He also would not let his men accept defeat. The way he achieved this was by burning his own ships to keep his men from turning away from the mission that he had for them. We can find a similar story in scripture.
In 1 Kings 19, a prophet in Israel named Elijah chooses a young man named Elisha to replace him. Elijah shows this succession by throwing his cloak over Elisha as he is plowing his field. Elisha chases after him and asks him if he can tell his parents goodbye. “Elijah replied, ‘Go on back, but think about what I have done to you (1 Kings 19:20b).’”
In the following verse it says, “So Elisha returned to his oxen and slaughtered them. He used the wood from the plow to build a fire to roast their flesh. He passed around the meat to the townspeople, and they all ate. Then he went with Elijah as his assistant (1 Kings 19:21).”The question must be asked, why is this recorded in Scripture? It doesn’t say that he told his parents goodbye and then followed Elisha. It says he used the wood from the plow to make a fire and then cooked up the oxen and shared it with the town. What’s he doing?
Elisha, like Herman Cortes, is “burning his ships”. For Elisha, there is no going back. He has chosen the mission that Elijah called him to which ultimately was God’s mission for him. He’s clearly showing Elijah that he’s surrendered everything: his home, his family and his livelihood. In other words, he is refusing to look back!
Let me ask you, has God put a call on your life and you continue to turn back to your old ways? Has He said to you, “Come follow me,” but you’ve been resisting, thinking that what lies in your past is so much better than what He might have for you? Are you stuck in a sin cycle you can’t you can’t seem to find a way out of? What’s holding you back from wholeheartedly following the lover of your soul?
Following God isn’t easy. If it wasn’t for Elisha, it won’t be for us. But think about it, Elisha traded in a lifetime of plowing oxen for service to his King. In addition, after he accepted the call Elisha (through God’s power) raised a child from the dead, caused an axe head to float and healed a man of leprosy (among numerous other miracles). I doubt that Elisha ever looked back and wished that he had kept plowing that field.
So I ask again, what is keeping you from fully surrendering and following God? Is it a sin in your life that you cannot seem to overcome or a mission God has called you to that you don’t seem to have enough faith for? Whatever it is I challenge you, like Elisha and Herman Cortes, to “burn your ship” and don’t look back!
Heavenly Father, I choose to give my life to you today. You are so good and faithful. I choose to trust that You have good plans for me. Lord, I give you any sins (name specific sins) that are holding me back from Your love and grace. I pray that by the power of the Holy Spirit that You will help me put these sins at the foot of the cross and under my feet. Lord, thank-you that You have good plans for me. Today I give up my right to choose my own destiny. I submit to the perfect plans and direction that You have for my life. In Jesus Name, Amen
Questions: What is tempting you to look back? What ships do you need to burn?