Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Plowing Straight Ahead
No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).
But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26).
I never knew my grandfather on my mother's side of the family. In January 1942, he was killed in the small Arkansas town of Hoxie when a troop train hit the truck in which he was riding. But even though I've never met him, I feel I know him well because of all that I have heard about him through the years. He was the oldest of several children, and he himself had ten children. The youngest was born after his death. When he died, he hadn't reached the age of 40, but seemed to have a wealth of wisdom. No doubt much of it was the result of hard knocks and experience -- lessons learned trying to raise a huge family on the meager income of a Southern farmer during the Great Depression.
My mother recently told me of an incident when she was out in the field with Grandfather, who was taking a brief rest from plowing the field with his mule (yep, no tractor -- they couldn't afford one). As they sat talking, he quoted the above Scripture from Luke, where Jesus drew a comparison to plowing a field and labor in the kingdom. He asked her why one should never look back when plowing. She couldn't tell him, of course. He went on to explain. "If you look backward instead of ahead, you'll eventually be way off your mark on the other side of the field instead of keeping your rows straight. You've got to look straight ahead at the mark to stay on the path."
How true. And that brings me to the next question. What are the reasons many of us look back?
You'll see I also popped in a reference to Lot's wife in the book of Genesis. Two different accounts with different contexts, but I think there can be many applications. Think for a moment about them. Taking your eyes off the Lord, off the mark. Getting distracted by other less important things than the task to which God has called us. Looking back regretfully at the life we left behind, even if that life was filled with less than savory things from a spiritual point of view. Beginning a task and then either growing weary with it, or perhaps becoming afraid to go any farther. Maybe we've hit a rough patch of ground, and instead of expending the added energy to break the ground up, we give up. Who knows. Each of us could have a different circumstance, but the lesson the Lord is trying to teach us is the same. Don't take your eyes off of Him. Don't take your eyes off the prize.
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary (Galatians 6:9).
But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good (2 Thessalonians 3:13).
For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:3).