“No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
This verse really shook me…looking back…isn’t that something we all do from time to time? Lot’s wife was just as guilty, and she didn’t get a second chance.
First, we need to understand why we look back before we can even begin to know how to look forward. Lot’s wife wanted to preserve the city of Sodom, wanted to return there to the place that had become her home, she disregarded the angel’s warning and God’s judgment, as if He wouldn’t do what He promised.
The very fact that she turned into a pillar of salt goes to show that this was why she looked over her shoulder. Salt is a preservative.
In the verse above, Jesus had just answered a man who said, “I will follow you Lord, but first let me say goodbye to my family” (Luke 9:61). To those listening this seemed like a fair request, however, such a request if measured by the instantaneous “following” of His other disciples, demonstrated a lack of commitment and surrender.
Did Simon (Peter), James, and John look over their shoulders?
“And when they had brought their boats ashore, they left everything and followed Him” (Luke 5:11).
We may be all on a journey toward total surrender, but God’s desire is clear. He didn’t come for part of us, but for the whole thing. He gave all of His Son, and His Son gave all of His life on the cross. The least we can give is our own hearts and lives, and yet, my head can’t seem to stop looking over my shoulder!
I don’t believe that I’m unfit for service in the kingdom, because God has surely used me and continues to use me to fulfill His purposes. The Holy Spirit and Jesus’s sacrifice has covered all of our sins, including the sin of disobedience (hesitation is disobedience). He makes up for our lack in that when God looks at us He no longer sees our sin but His Son.
This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t grow spiritually or heed the Holy Spirit’s attempts to bring us deeper into surrender. By all means, what I’m saying is that we can’t do it alone, we need the Holy Spirit and His transforming power over our hearts and minds. Otherwise, there will always be a part of us that holds fast to uncertainty and fear.
When I look back, it is because I’m afraid. I worry about my family and friends if I’m not there. It’s as though I fear that God will abandon them when I’m not looking or when I forget to pray for them. I worry that if God calls me away, they will lose their own drive and pursuit of God and that if I were to die in my service to the Lord, they would resent Him for it.
And I suppose another part of me fears that what is lost can’t be redeemed. There is a part of me that clings to the world I know, even as the sands of time slip through my fingers and those I love get older and many parish. I fear these things because I don’t know if the memories I make here with some people will carry on to eternity. The sad truth is that there are those we love and laugh with that won’t walk through the gates of Heaven with us.
As much as I believe and pray and plea on their behalf, at the end of the day, even if their hearts are softened and God’s made the path to Him easy and clear…they still have to choose. It all comes down to a choice, and those who sit on the fence of uncertainty unto death, have already decided which master they follow. Many still will choose themselves over God, stubbornly clinging to the illusion of power and control, unseeing of the fact that satan stands above them pulling the puppet strings.
I’m on a journey of letting go…I know what is right and what takes precedence in my life. God is first and at the end of it all, He is all I need. It is my desire and prayer that I will one day have a wholly surrendered heart, because without one, though I serve in the kingdom of God, I know that my authority and influence is hindered. So long as I chain myself to this world, I fight with one hand tied behind my back.
It is hard to let go and let God. To trust Him with your family and friends, your hometown and it’s brokenness. You may very well be called to transform them, but only through God is that possible. In Biblical times, it was said that a prophet is not welcomed in his hometown, that he has no honor amidst those who will forever see him as a little child (Luke 4:16-30). Those who know his past will struggle to believe in his newly transformed or anointed self. The problem here isn’t so much that they don’t believe in God, but that they don’t believe in the messenger. If Jesus struggled with this, we can be sure to feel its effects even today.
Are you willing to let another do the saving? If you can’t reach your family, pray for them, and be willing to pray that another will open their hearts and do the very thing that you are unable to do. There are even famous ministers who grew up in Christian homes that didn’t truly find God until they went to a revival gathering or opened up to a stranger…God knows who will speak best to a Person’s heart.
My only assurance to you is that God is working even when we forget to pray. He is working on behalf of your family and friends because you know what? He loves them more than you! The same Jesus that died for you died for them and that makes them priceless to God. He knows your heart and your life wholly surrendered to Him will do more for your family than staying behind. I promise you.
No more looking back.