Burn the Ships

So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.” “Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?” 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 became his servant.

1 Kings 19:19-21 (NIV)

I was privileged, this past weekend, to be a part of another Journey Commencement.  It was a very special time as we gathered one last time to reflect on and celebrate what God had accomplished in us over these past 9 months.  The next morning, as we all spread out over the grounds of the retreat location for some alone time with the Father, God gave me a word for these men.  He reminded me of how Elijah raised up Elisha to take his mantle of leadership.  Elijah was plowing the field, which appeared to be his main source of identity and provision.  After he was called by Elijah, he did something amazing.  He slaughtered the oxen and burned the plowing equipment.  It was a bold declaration of pursuing God’s calling on his life and burning the bridge which could take him back to his former life.

God wanted me to tell these men that He had done a great work in them and that He had called them to a new life of Personal Abandonment and Absolute Trust.  They will be tempted to go back to their old way of life and their old way of thinking, but they cannot.  They must “burn the plows,” so to speak, and move boldly forward into a new life in Christ.

So, I ask you…are you still entangled in your old way of life, even though you have received a calling from the Lord to come and follow Him?  What are you holding onto?  I’m not saying everyone needs to quit their job and depend on the Lord for their provision.  But is your job still your main source of your identity?  Is an old habit or addiction still chaining you to your past?  Is fear still gripping your spirit?  If so, it’s time for a spiritual bonfire.  You need to burn those things from the past so you can walk into the newness and freshness of the abundant life God wants to give you.

Steven Curtis Chapman had a great song a few years back, called “Burn the Ships” which describes this dynamic.  Read the lyrics and then listen to the song.  I pray God shows you something.

In the spring of 1519 a Spanish fleet set sail
Cortez told his sailors this mission must not fail
On the eastern shore of Mexico they landed with great dreams
But the hardships of the new world make them restless and weak

Quietly they whispered, “Let’s sail back to the life we knew”
But the one who led them there was saying

“Burn the ships we’re here to stay
There’s no way we could go back
Now that we’ve come this far by faith
Burn the ships we’ve passed the point of no return
Our life is here so let the ships burn and burn”

In the spring of new beginnings a searching heart set sail
Looking for a new life and a love that would not fail
On the shores of grace and mercy we landed with great joy
But an enemy was waiting to steal, kill, and destroy

Quietly he whispers, “Go back to the life you know”
But the one who led us here is saying

“Burn the ships we’re here to stay
There’s no way we could go back
Now that we’ve come this far by faith
Burn the ships we’ve passed the point of no return
Our life is here so let the ships burn and burn”

Nobody said it would be easy
But the one who brought us here
Is never gonna leave us alone