Elisha left the oxen standing there, ran after Elijah, and said to him, “First let me go and kiss my father and mother good-bye, and then I will go with you!”
Elijah replied, “Go on back, but think about what I have done to you.”
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 19:20-21
In just a few sentences, the call to God and obedience is so richly displayed. The prophet Elijah waited in the field for Elisha to pass with his oxen and as he approached him he placed his cloak over his shoulders. This symbolized that Elisha, which means “my God is salvation”, had been chosen by God to be Elijah’s successor. As the passage comes to a close, we surely understand Elisha knew he had been called. He didn’t question he would sacrifice and leave something behind.
He would burn the plows of his past and step forward in the field of his future.
When I read this I always reflect on my choice to follow God. I had the same amazing experience when I felt the cloak of his presence rest on my shoulders. I had been plowing away at habits and bad choices trying to cultivate a harvest full of peace and joy. The harvest would be enough to get me by but it was never enough to leave me full. But that day, when I was called, I was ready. I can remember it. There is nothing like it.
I burned my plows.
Many years later, I sometimes still find myself feeling held back and not progressing in the direction that God has called me to. It is because I still manage to hook up a team of oxen and set out into the field to harvest. The sun beating down on me as I steer the course so patiently awaiting the culmination of my efforts. Efforts that will result in small bales of me and will serve no greater purpose as big as God’s.
There are always going to be things that will hold us back from pursuing and living what God has called us to. Our old way of living will seek to pull us back to a field in which we used to work. To harness the muscle needed to pull though the dirt and to commit to the long days of effort that will be exhausting and fruitless. When this happens, we need to remember Elisha and his act of obedience so that we can find the courage needed to ignite the fire within our hearts and on the field.
So today, I ask.
Do you need to burn your plows?