Elisha: Burning Bridges

“And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him” (1 Kings 19:21, ESV).

On occasion we set our minds to do a thing only to turn around and walk away from it. That’s not always a bad thing. Maybe it was a sport. You were excited to learn, but found that you didn’t enjoy it. So once the season or class was over you never went back to it.

Maybe it was a decision made in college. My first two years of college I was a Pre-Physical Therapy major. I had done a work-study program during my senior year of high school and was certain that’s what I wanted to do with my life. Then, a year-and-a-half in, I decided that it wasn’t. I ended up studying the Bible at a different college.

I’ve often been told, and have doled out the same free advice from time to time, that when you leave a job, a church, or whatever, don’t burn your bridges, for you never know when you might need to go back. For some situations that advice is absolutely solid. But Elisha understood that in his situation burning bridges is exactly what he needed to to.

Rather than calling for someone to take over his spot behind his yoke of oxen, rather than guiding his oxen home, Elisha killed his oxen and boiled them over a fire fueled by the yoke that harnessed their power. He made sure that he couldn’t return to his former life if things just didn’t work out.

Bold move.

Jesus made a statement about following Him that is a little ironic in Elisha’s case. “Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:62, ESV). Elisha pushed his chips into the pot and laid his cards on the table. God wants us to be all in; regardless of how the hand plays out, following Jesus is an all-or-nothing venture.

The metaphor is less than perfect, but it makes the point.

God is asking us to go all-in. We each need to ask ourselves what it is that we are holding back, as a security blanket of sorts, just in case this “Jesus thing” gets a little too uncomfortable. I need to ask of myself the difficult questions. Am I willing to give up everything in my pursuit of Jesus?

Being a disciple is not all sunshine and roses. There are Gethsemanes. There are Golgathas. There are times when God asks of us more than we are willing to give. Hopefully we can learn from our weaknesses and failures, and come through the fire without even the smell of smoke in our clothes.

Elisha was resolute. No turning back. All bridges have been burned.

Blessings on your mindful week!

Photo by Aay Kay on Unsplash

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