Christianity 201

October 28, 2013

Tightrope Walking Without a Net

Mark Batterson mentions this story in his book All In and then it was posted on Ralph Howe’s blog. I decided at that point I was meant to share this. I thought of calling it, Leaving Yourself No Backup Plan. So often in the Christian life, we “step out in faith,” (imagine big air quotes) while at the same time, we have a backup plan in case the move/investment/job change/church plant doesn’t work.

On February 19, 1519, the Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes set sail for Mexico with an entourage of 11 ships, 13 horses, 110 sailors, and 553 soldiers. The indigenous population upon his arrival was approximately five million. From a purely mathematical standpoint, the odds were stacked against him by a ratio of 7,541 to 1. Two previous expeditions had failed to even establish a settlement in the New World, yet Cortes conquered much of the South American continent.

What Cortes is reported to have done after landing is an epic tale of mystic proportions. He issued an order that turned his mission into an all-or-nothing proposition: “Burn the ships!” As he crew watched their fleet of ships burn and sink, they came to terms with the fact that retreat was not an option. And if you can compartmentalize the moral conundrum of colonization, there is a lesson to be learned. Nine times out of ten, failure is responding to Plan B when Plan A gets to risky, too costly, or too difficult. That’s why most people are living their Plan B. They didn’t burn the ships. I prefer to be a Plan A person. Plan A people don’t have a Plan B.

1 Kings 19:21 “So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and become his servant (and eventually his successor).”

Elisha was a Plan A person . He burnt the ships. He removed any possibility of turning back to his old ways if things got too difficult, to uncomfortable, or too costly. Burning the plowing equipment meant he could not go back to his old way of life because he destroyed the time machine that would take him back. It was the end of Elisha the farmer. It was the beginning of Elisha the prophet.

What do you need to burn to remove your Plan B?

That’s the simple message.  Want to go deeper on this?

Here’s today’s two-for-one special! Terry Broadwater did a teaching on this that he called Kill The Cow and Burn The Plow. (That’s ‘plough’ for everyone outside the US.) Here’s the first one-third of that text with a link at the bottom to finish reading.  I like how he ties this in to the calling of James and John.

I love to hunt, eat meat, and I’m almost a pyromaniac!!  So, “Kill the Cow and Burn the Plow” is a great subject for me to talk about!

Matt. 4:21-22 21 A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. 22 They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.

This is early in Jesus’ ministry and he’s inviting some guys to “follow him.”  James and John are fishermen, they are in a boat, repairing nets, with their father- it’s a family business, doing what fishermen do.  Note: They “left behind” the boat and their father!

Not a spontaneous decision… They’re ready to take the next step… THIS IS A BIG DEAL!!!  They were in the family fishing business: “Zebedee and Sons!”  This was not a causal decision!

1 Kings 19:19-21 19 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. 20 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.”  21 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.

This is an OT story about an old prophet who has identified his replacement and is about to begin a process of mentoring him.  And the young “prophet-to-be” has to go all in!  Notice:

  • He kills the cows!
  • He burns the plow!
  • He has no intentions of “going back” to where he once was!  James and John “left some things behind”- Elisha “let it all go” up in smoke!

There is no such thing as casual Christianity!  There is a cost to follow: Luke 14:28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?”  You must calculate what it means to follow Jesus!!

…continue reading here…

1 Comment »

  1. The cost of discipleship is high indeed – death to self and self will.
    The riches of discipleship, however, far, far, far outweigh the cost. The blessings in this life are enormous and those in the next life are beyond comprehension.

    There can be no argument as to the benefit . . . and yet we all too often hesitate, even though we know from experience that God’s way is ALWAYS best.
    As Spurgeon said, ‘we cannot outgive God, because God always uses a bigger shovel’

    Comment by meetingintheclouds — October 31, 2013 @ 5:13 pm | Reply


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