Have you ever dropped an earring-back, or something else tremendously small and difficult to see that forced you to actually drop to your knees and eye-ball the ground? Maybe you carelessly shattered a glass jar, and in order to find every last fine, almost invisible shard of it you had to telescope all angles of the room from ground-level. (Wow! That floor is dirty!!) How different the perspective is from base-level!
Every now and again, despite our most valiant efforts, we find ourselves sprawled like children, down on metaphoric dust heaps. We get steamrolled by life, and we begin again. This is not our preferred vantage point, but it is useful. Physically and psychologically, it brings us back to our origins. Out of the dust we were formed, so it’s not surprising that our most significant moments bring us back to terra firma once again.
When we’ve become spiritually sluggish, and much too complacent in our ways, the ground of fruitfulness in our lives gets hard and unproductive. Not only that, we get terribly bored and discontented. Here’s the Lord’s solution.
Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you. Hosea 10:12
Scripture likens seasons of change to plowing the soil. All kinds of references to plowing, sowing, reaping, fields, furrows and oxen abound, re-rooting our thinking again in the primitive truths of life. As we move into Kairos seasons where new spiritual lands are being possessed and occupied, there’s no doubt it takes work, and even God admits it’s hard going. In all areas of our being, we’re going to have to move out of the comfort zone and invest a little sweat equity - get our fingernails dirty. Moving onto territory we are unsure of is not for the faint of heart; it’s dealing with spiritual oxen. Can you cut a straight furrow? Work a couple of acres without stopping? This is harder than it sounds.
The story of Elijah, and Elisha, his protégé is excellent for our consideration (1 Kings 19:19-21). Getting ready to take up the prophet, the Lord gave instructions for him to train and install his replacement. He found Elisha, son of a wealthy man, plowing what must have been a massive piece of property, requiring 12 oxen. Now to control that much land and that much ox-power, some serious mastery was required. This was a spiritual marker, for when the old prophet cast his mantle upon him, Elisha understood exactly what it meant. It was a declaration that he was ready for the next step.There’s an old Chinese proverb that perfectly captures this paradoxical opportunity transfer.
When the student is ready the teacher will appear. When the student is truly ready... The teacher will Disappear.
Elijah and Elisha teach us something critical about our readiness to embrace what the Lord has for us. When we faithfully complete the tasks set before us, no matter how mundane they are, we are on course for our next promotion. Nevertheless, something in our spirit has to be alert for the unexpected moment when the Lord throws the curve ball. Then, it’s our choice to embrace new mantles or, intimidated, reject them, and we’re not usually given much time to decide.
All of us struggle with stubbornness and inflexibility in our own ways, but it’s never more exposed than when transformation is upon us. Without warning, we have to face personal barriers of laziness, insecurity, prejudice or partiality and master them, or let fear dominate and paralyze us. Do we truly possess a teachable spirit? Are we humble, flexible, willing to admit to deficiencies and ignorance, or too set in our ways to receive the gift of newness and challenge the Lord is holding out to us? I admit, it’s unnerving, because God always has a much bigger dream of the territory we should inherit than we do. That’s why trusting His direction more than our own desire to lead us into the pleasant land is so critically important. If we do, we will reap this incredible promise:
Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, And the treader of grapes him who sows seed; The mountains shall drip with sweet wine, And all the hills shall flow with it. 14 I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. 15 I will plant them in their land, And no longer shall they be pulled up From the land I have given them,” Says the Lord your God. Amos 9:13
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