17 April 2009

A Tale of Two Plows...

This morning I was thinking of two stories in the Bible – one OT, one NT. And I don’t usually mix stories like that but they came to mind.

One is found in Luke 9:61-62:

Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." (NIV)

Here is a pretty typical response to God’s radical Call – in whatever fashion you want to view it: “I’m willing and I want to, but give me some time so I can take care of pressing issues, social customs, family matters and internal necessities.”

And then there is the response of Elisha found in the OT:

1Kings 19:19-21 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. 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?"
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. (NIV)

Both these guys respond to The Plow and the Call. Both “calls” were to service in the Kingdom. And both reply the same way; the human way.

And the human way is not the wrong way, but often the only way we know. But the “human way” needs to be processed in such a way that the results are obedient faith! Obedient faith. And radical faith requires a radical obedience.

To my knowledge, the NT guy from Luke 9 (and parallel in Matthew 8) never shows back up. He leaves without returning. His backward glance destroyed his ability to put his hand on the plow as forward movement for Kingdom service.

But Elisha, destroys the plow and the oxen, turns it into a big going-away party and attaches himself to the Man of God, Elijah. And becomes the heir to God's move initiated through Elijah! Complete with a double portion!

So my concern - both for myself and this generation - is how will we respond to the Call to follow Jesus on His big mission of taking the Gospel to the whole world.

Let's have a party - burning all out attachments (yikes!) - and go for it! Maybe we'll have a double portion too.

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