As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
He said to another man, “Follow me.”
But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.”
Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62 NIV)
He who puts his hand to the plow only to look back is not fit for service in the Kingdom of God. Notice that Jesus didn’t say, “He who has a hard time pushing the plow is not fit…” Neither did He say, “He who can’t see over the handles of the plow to plow a straight furrow is not fit…” Notice that He didn’t even say, “He who is unwilling even to try to pick up the plow is not fit…” No, Jesus said that he who puts his hand to the plow, but then looks back…second guessing himself…doubting himself…wishing he hadn’t picked it up…or craving a different task…he is the one who is not fit. You see, God does not desire our strength. He does not desire our abilities. He does not desire anything we can bring. He desires our whole selves. He desires our commitment. He desires our dedication. In short and in simplicity, He requires only our obedience.
That is a tough teaching! God wants us to be in submission to Him and to His purposes, not to attempt something we want to do and then hope for His approval. When we put our hands to the plow—that is, when we accept the call into His service—we ought to remember that it is His plow we have put our hands to. It is not our plow that we have offered partially to Him. A very similar thought is found in James regarding Christian businessmen who would plan to go to a certain city in order to find worldly success there and then move on and do the same elsewhere. James told them that they should ask the Lord what He wanted them to do. It is to be God’s work that Christians should set their minds to perform. If we are committed to His lordship—if we are committed to being servants of God—then we need to do as our Master asks us. We are not to do what we desire and hope that it is pleasing and acceptable to our Master. Remember, the master has goals and plans for what He wants to accomplish. Then the master places each of His servants in the position for which he is best suited in order to attain those goals. The servant does not choose where he wants to be, hoping that he is doing what his master wants. No, the servant follows the desires of the master. Otherwise, the servant acts in disobedience and disrespect by placing his will above the master’s.
When we put our hands to the plow that God has given us, let us not look back. Maybe that plow looks too large for us today! Trust the Master and don’t look back! Maybe the furrow to be plowed seems to be too great a task to handle. Trust the Master and don’t look back! Maybe the oxen pulling the plow are too unruly to handle. Trust the Master and don’t look back! Or perhaps…just perhaps…it is the one holding onto the plow with our hands who is truly the unruly, unwilling one. Regardless, trust the Master! Don’t look back!