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The Rusted Plow

Jim is an award-winning author (creative writing and poetry), with over twenty-five years in Christian leadership.

what-does-putting-your-hand-to-the-plow-and-looking-back-mean

Serenity is when we quit hoping for a better past.

Remember life in America just two Christmases ago? I’m shocked at how much we and the world have changed. We have a new president, the war in Afghanistan is finally over, and as we know, Covid-19 dominates every facet of life. Many economies have tanked, inflation is rising, worldwide there are population migrations and angry demonstrations. Many businesses, churches, and nonprofit activities have shut down. Some, like the people we’ve lost over the last three years, are gone forever.

Are we lost in some sort of phantom zone, a new reality where stress and anxiety reign? Many people are sure that time has accelerated and talk of the Great Tribulation. They hope that God will rapture his church. They want to escape with their friends and fly away home to Heaven. A blessed hope indeed—but when will it happen? Or are we actually wasting our days hoping and praying that yesterday will return?

One answer could be found in the Bible. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, no man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Luke 9:61 and 62 AKJV

Hmm … that bit of scripture has always puzzled me, even more so today. Few of us are farmers, let alone have plowed a field. So, let's read what Matthew Henry’s Commentary says about the rebuke Jesus gave the would-be follower.

Matthew explains when a good farmer ploughs, his or her vision is singularly focused on what’s ahead. Because if they look back, the plow will wander left or right, and the ground will not be fit to be sown with a new crop. He goes on to say that as believers, “If we want to follow Jesus and reap the advantages—yet look back to our old life and hanker for what was—we may be looking back as Lot’s wife did at Sodom, which seems to be alluded to here, thou art not fit for the kingdom of God.”

Consider this allegory about how an unwise farmer became a modern-day version of Lot’s wife:

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Drought and poor markets have put the family farm in jeopardy. He sold their plow horses to keep the bank from taking the house, and his family have eaten all the seed corn and wheat. Last fall his sons moved away to find work in the city. Yet every day the reluctant farmer tells himself that today will be different. Today he will plow and till and plant his field like yesteryear. So, he walks his fallow field until he reaches his rusting plow—now stuck in the ground for over two years. He pulls and wrenches on the plow, but the plow won’t budge because it belongs in the fallow field forever.

Most of us have a spiritual plow that’s firmly stuck in a fallow field. Sometimes we call it an empty nest syndrome, hoarding, or unresolved grief. Too often we cope by isolating and create little fantasy worlds that we can control—fallow or idle fields that never have to change.

The only constant in the Kingdom of God is change. As Isaiah poetically stated, don’t remember the former things, and don’t consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing. It springs out now. Don’t you know it? Chapter 43:18 & 19. WEB

Just a thought or two to consider … may God bless everyone with serenity and health and fellowship as we draw into the new year.

Feedback and comments welcome!

© 2022 James E Cressler

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