So here is a verse I read a few weeks back during one of those random “I got a few minutes before a meeting” times where I grabbed my Bible from behind the seat, played the Bible roulette game and read the chapter I opened to.
1 Kings 19:19-21
19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. 20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother good-by,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”
“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”
21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant.
It was just one of those “WOW” moments….especially verse 21. I’m sure I have read that passage before but it never jumped out at me quite like it did on this day. Read it again if you haven’t already….I mean “he did what?????” Talk about burning the bridge behind you, talk about commitment…..and Elisha surely didn’t have to think about it and he didn’t say “well, let me pray about this” He essentially threw himself a going away party!!
This actually turned into a message I was able to preach at a couple of our locations, here’s some of my random thoughts that came up while researching.
I. God’s Call Forces Us to Make Difficult Choices.
I’m not surprised that Elisha responded as he did. John Eldredge (author of Wild at Heart) says that God has placed inside every man a desire to find an adventure to live. That’s why men love fast cars, football, and movies like Braveheart and The Dirty Dozen. It’s also why we don’t watch Sleepless in Seattle unless there’s a woman involved. Men were born for adventure, we were hard-wired by God to take risks, we were made to glance at our cards, look around the table, take a deep breath and say, “All in.” I’m not saying women don’t do that because they do, but it’s different because men and women are different. Elisha chose the hard path of risk instead of playing it safe. It’s not like Elijah gave him a job description with fancy perks. The job description for a prophet in those days was pretty much long hours, hard work and low pay. Elisha knew that going in, and he didn’t hesitate.
II. God’s Call Leads to Painful Separation.
This has always been part of the high cost of the Great Commission. Following Jesus always leads to a cross where our dreams are crucified. The only thing I can tell you on this is that when we do crucify OUR dreams, God always has a much better plan and purpose for us in the long run…..ALWAYS!!!
III. God’s Call Requires Decisive Action.
When God calls, you will always have to make a decision. The burning of the plow takes on an interesting twist if we look at the words of Jesus words in Luke 9:62, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
It’s not wrong to plow a field, but if your plowing keeps you from Jesus, you’d better burn the plow. Anything good can become a hindrance if it keeps you from following the Lord.
Elisha was saying, “I’m following God’s call and no matter what happens, I’m not going back. The old life is over forever. A new day has come for me.”
At the end of the day here is the question we need to answer, “who and what is the source of my faith?” Is it Jesus? Do I truly believe He will be all I need? Or is my faith in reality anchored in the details of life–pleasure, position, power, prestige, possession? Elisha, like Elijah, was an ordinary man, but he became extra-ordinary because he was available to the Lord, because he turned his life over to the Lord, lock, stock, and barrel, and God was able to use him in tremendous ways.