God has been stretching me lately. Trust has become a major theme in my story. As you may have picked up in previous posts, He is asking me to trust Him in new and big ways, and the process is rather uncomfortable at times.
As I was journaling one day during my recent travels, I wrote the following words that I felt like God was speaking to me:
“How far out of the boat are you willing to come? So far, you are still close enough to grab hold again if you get scared… Are you willing to come out where you can’t reach back for security? How about coming to where you can no longer see it?”
Those are some fairly unnerving questions, and He continues to challenge me to move farther along with Him. The words C. S. Lewis wrote in “The Last Battle” ring in my ears, calling me to “come further up and further in.”
Sunday, 29 June, was my first Sunday back in church after being on the road for so long. The pastor was beginning a sermon series on Elisha, and the text was out of 1 Kings 19.
“19 So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him. 20 And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said,’Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.’ And he said to him, ‘Go back again, for what have I done to you?’ 21 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.”
The pastor brought out several points regarding Elisha from this passage, and there were two that spoke to me in particular. The first was that while Elisha was working in the field, God was working on His behalf. He had no idea that God was speaking about him behind his back to Elijah.
Who knows what God is up to behind our backs? He is intimately involved in the details of our lives, and in one moment our whole life can change. Elisha was hanging out with oxen in a field one minute, and the next he is running after a prophet of God, knowing that he has been called into that life as well. No warning. No knowledge that God had been at work on his behalf.
I don’t know about you, but I find that to be an extremely encouraging thought as I spend my days doing seemingly small things and hoping that one day breakthrough will come!
The second point that stood out to me in the story was in Elisha’s response to the sudden opportunity. He immediately left what he was doing and went running after Elijah without a word ever being spoken between them. Even more impressive, as the pastor talked about, was the fact that he didn’t just run after the opportunity. He made sure that there was nothing to run back to. He burned his exit strategy, “barbecued his livelihood”. He ensured that there was no longer any option other than following God’s call on him.
There seems to be a theme in my life. The last sermon I heard before leaving Ireland for several weeks was on Joshua chapter 1. One of the points made was that the children of Israel had to move on and leave the past behind in order to enter the promised land. Moses was dead, they had mourned, and it was time to move forward into something new.
Last night, I went to the opening night of a conference, and the first point in the sermon? “Moses is dead. We have to leave the past behind in order to move into the new thing that God is doing.”
I believe I’m on the brink of something new, something big, but I think I need to make sure plan B isn’t an option. It’s time for a BBQ, a bonfire to get rid of any past security that I could run back to when the promised land starts to look scary. Yes, I’m mixing the stories, but they have the same message, and it’s a message that seems as though it’s being shouted at me from every direction.
I don’t know yet exactly what things I need to leave behind. I don’t know exactly what the boat, yoke of oxen, or Moses represents in my own life, and I’ll admit that I’m a little anxious to find out. I’m already uncomfortable in this place, and I know that leaving behind things in which I’ve found security will only enhance that discomfort. However, I also know that moving forward into what God is calling me into will have benefits that FAR outweigh any momentary discomfort.
I have a feeling I’m not the only one on this journey. I’m guessing there are others being called not only out of, but away from the boat, into the unknown depths with Jesus. It is a scary place to be, but it is also well worth the risk.
If you are joining me in going “further up and further in”, into the unknown, I’d love to hear your story. What is it that you are having to walk away from? What are you walking toward? Do you know yet? Leave a comment, and let’s encourage each other along the way.
Finally, if you do find yourself in this place, here is a song that I have found encouraging many times. It’s likely you’ve heard it, but just in case you haven’t… Enjoy!