Tag Archives: missionary calling

Slaughter the Oxen, Burn the Plow

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I 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.

There was nothing wrong with what Elisha was doing before God called him to become a follower of the Prophet Elijah.  I imagine that Elisha was diligent in his work, a responsible son, obedient to his father and mother.  All good things.

And when Elijah threw his cloak over Elisha, which is symbolic of the Calling of God for ministry, he did not order Elisha to slaughter the oxen and burn the plow.  Some people would consider that to be a horribly insensitive and irresponsible thing to do.  After all, someone else might be able to use those tools.  They could be sold for a profit, or at the very least, left behind for another family member to use.  Why burn everything?

Elisha was leaving his old way of life behind.  He was not going to leave a “back door” open as a route of escape.  He was in this thing whole heartedly for better or worse.  There was no going back now.  He kissed his parents good-bye, prepared a good-bye feast for the people using his own resources, and set out to follow Elijah.

In his Evangelistic Crusades, Billy Graham used the hymn “I have decided to follow Jesus” to call people to make a decision for God.  The song says, “I have decided to follow Jesus- no turning back, no turning back.  Though none go with me, still I will follow- no turning back, no turning back.  The cross before me, the world behind me- no turning back, no turning back.”  Don’t leave an escape route open when you decide to follow Jesus.  Slaughter the oxen and burn the plow.

To the beat of God’s drum

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“Do not be afraid to be different from other people.  The path I have called you to travel is exquisitely right for you.  The more closely you follow My leading, the more fully I can develop your gifts.  To follow Me wholeheartedly, you must relinquish your desire to please other people.  However, your closeness to Me will bless others by enabling you to shine brightly in this dark world.” ~Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

In any random gathering of missionaries there will always be a large handful of them whose families back home are (or were) unhappy with their decision to be missionaries.  This lifestyle upsets the whole clan.  It tears the heart out of Grandmas and Grandpas.  It brings conviction on lukewarm, comfort loving Christians in the family.  It strains and pulls at relationships.

Jesus knew this would happen.  He said, “Unless your love for me is so much greater than your love for family and home, you can’t follow me.”  A missionary’s love for God often hurts the ones we love the most.  That is the nature of the Upside Down Kingdom of God where first is last, love is pain, and we go against our nature to do what God has commanded.  Relinquish your desire to please others and yet still be a blessing to others.

Walking to the beat of God’s drum is admirable, but it will cost you something eventually.  You can’t be listening for the approval and applause of mankind and still hear that beat in your heart.  When God’s opinion of you matters more than the opinion of friends and family, then you will be free to move, free to march, free to GO where God commands you to go.

God calls NONE of us to comfort, ease and luxury.  If you have been saying to yourself, “I’m glad that God never called ME to go overseas.  I’m called to be right here in my own home town.”  Then I suggest you haven’t been listening for that drum beat.  NEVER ONCE does God tell us to settle down and get cozy in our Christian life.  If you are tucked safely into your comfort zone, you can not step out and move to the beat of God’s drum.

William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, famously said, “‘Not called!’ did you say? ‘Not heard the call,’ I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house and bid their brothers and sisters, and servants and masters not to come there. And then look Christ in the face, whose mercy you have professed to obey, and tell him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish his mercy to the world.”