Elisha burned the plow.
For those of us who’ve ever hemmed and hawed a decision, Elisha’s strange albeit powerful action is a lesson worth learning. Let’s look at 1 Kings 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 goodbye,” 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 servant.
True faith involves burning our backup plan.
This brief story packs a powerful message for us today. Burn our backup plan.
For many years, this verse confused me. I wondered why Elisha deemed it necessary to burn the plow and oxen. Couldn’t someone else in the village use the farming equipment? It seems like a wasteful use of provisions to me.
In response to the call, “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 become his attendant.” (1 Kings 19:21 NIV) From this day forward Elisha would no longer plow the land but instead tend the souls of God’s people.
Elisha burned the plow as a symbolic gesture of no turning back toward his previous life before being chosen by God to work alongside (and eventually succeed) Elijah. True faith involves burning our backup plan.
If you have a Plan B, you always have a fallback.
Like Elisha, I burned my backup plan. In August 2021, I make an enormous decision not to renew my pharmacist license. Because of the illness I currently battle, (Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis) I haven’t practiced pharmacy for six years. Yet all this time, I’ve maintained all my continuing education credits and my pharmacist license.
During those years of not working as a pharmacist, I grew closer to the Lord. Though blindsided by a rare illness, I shared messages of faith through articles, blogs, and speaking opportunities. These messages of faith during trials turned into a traditionally published book that I co-wrote Destination Hope: A Travel Companion When Life Falls Apart with my friend, Marilyn Nutter. We wove stories from a dozen other women who’ve struggled with loss, infertility, a prodigal child, financial crisis, substance abuse, a special needs child, and incarceration with our own stories of loss and grief.
The entire year of 2021, I felt a nudge in my spirit to make the tremendous decision not to renew my license. It was almost as if God was saying, “Do you trust me?” Between August and December 2021, my first book was published, and I received certification as a writing coach. Unlike Elisha, who swiftly let go of the reins, I held on.
Backup plans prevent us from walking in faith.
My nearly twenty-year career as a pharmacist was my Plan A. Holding onto the license “just in case” was my Plan B. Daily my thoughts were consumed with the struggle to let go. Holding onto my backup plan prevented me from walking in faith.
Finally, I burned my plow. The only evidence of my previous occupation is my framed diploma on my office wall and my pharmacist lab coat in the back of my closet.
In the spirit of total transparency, this was not an easy task. I miss using the critical thinking skills that accompany my education and let’s be real, I miss the paycheck. Like Paul, I too have peace that passed all understanding. A peace that I believe is a blessing to obedience.
Friend, are you hemming and hawing over a decision? What are you holding onto that you know you should let go of? What holds you back from trusting God wholeheartedly?
If you struggle in this area consider the story of the father who presented his sick son to Jesus and cried out, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)
Hugs & Hope,
© 20022 April Dawn White