Jesus has the most remarkable way of saying in one short sentence enough to bring you up short and change the direction of your life! One of those sentences is found in Luke 9:62 where He says, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
The truth of this was very evident to me as a young believer in Botswana, Africa, where frequently dry and dusty fields would be worked the old-fashioned way — with a plow dragged behind an ox. I didn’t need much imagination to get the picture! It was not only back-breaking and exhausting work, but it required a degree of concentration and attention one would not necessarily expect. There was almost always a marker of some sort across the field on the other side. Once the farmer began to plow, he only looked straight ahead — never taking his eyes off that marker. He didn’t look from side to side or down at his feet, nor did he glance backward to gauge his progress. Any such distraction would change the position of his hand on the plow and throw him off course. The furrow would be crooked and unsuitable for planting.
Jesus’ words may sound a bit harsh; but they were intended to be a reminder to those of us who want to be His disciples that in order to follow Him we need to focus on Him. We cannot afford to be distracted or look back to what we have left behind us. The author of Hebrews put it like this:
“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
(Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV1984)
If we truly want to follow the Lord, we need to be “forward looking” like that African plowman — eyes focused on Christ and Christ alone. He is the goal, the marker across the field, if you will. We’re not to look from side to side at those plowing next to us. We are not to look down at the obstacles in our way — the rocks and uneven ground.
And we are not to look back. Looking back with longing for the life we once lived or with regret over past sins, even though we know they have been forgiven, will throw us off course and halt our progress. We must learn to leave the past where it should be — in the past! We must learn to focus on Christ and move forward!
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19)
There are fields all around us that need to be tended. The soil needs to be prepared. The seed of the Word needs to be planted and watered. Let us throw off those old entanglements and persevere with our eyes fixed on Christ. May He give you a new burst of energy today, irrespective of what comes your way.
Blessings to you,