Burning Plows


So Elijah went and found Elisha son of Shaphat plowing a field. There were twelve teams of oxen in the field, and Elisha was plowing with the twelfth team. Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak across his shoulders and then walked away. 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 19:19-21 


Over time, Wilmington, and the surrounding areas will find their footing again. Some aspects of the recovery process are already taking place. The waters are slowly receding. Damaged homes are being repaired. Businesses are reopening and many are heading back to work. Before we know it, our children will return to their classrooms and school will be in session. Life will be "normal." 

How we respond to this shift matters a great deal. Our tendency will be to go back to the way things were. No one can fault us for this desire or aim. It's human nature to head towards the path of predictability and routine. We crave security, the ability to control our circumstances and manage life on our own. 

If we don't stop long enough to see and hear from God and examine what He's doing in our heart, we will just drift aimlessly in the direction we've always gone. God did a work inside our heart as we responded to the circumstances we faced. While we'd rather settle for the "old days," He wants to do something new within us. 

The opportunity for us to be at our best, individually as well as a community of believers, happens every single day. Our best gets formed not in the past, but by displaying faith in the present moment with an eye to the future. 

A line must be drawn in the sand to declare the past will remain where it belongs - in the past. Elisha did just that when the prophet Elijah visited him and shared news that Elisha would become his successor. Elisha kissed his family goodbye and then did something profound. He killed his oxen and burned his plows - a scorched-earth display of faith. Elisha was declaring that his time as a wealthy farmer was over. There was no turning back, he was going to serve the Lord. The temptation to return to his old ways had been handled. The meal wasn't a feast for friends, but an offering of faith and trust to the Lord.

We all have plows that need to burn. To keep them in the field gives us an out when things in the future get tough, uncomfortable or challenging. When our character gets shaped and our faith gets tested, we will yearn for a routine life in the field. The plow might not be what we want, but it's what we know. Rather than thrive, we will settle. Impact and influence don't reside in the fields of the past. They are found when we carve out our future through a life centered on faith, trust, and obedience.  


  • What plows do you need to burn? Why are you reluctant to do so?

  • What would present day obedience look like for you today?


God, help me to burn the plows of the past. May I not attempt to return to the past, but take steps of obedience and faith today. You are doing something within my heart, make those things known to me. Help me to see where You are leading me. In your name, Jesus. Amen.

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