The Bare Soul - January 1, 2012
Hand to the Plow

Luke 9:62 - But Jesus said to him, No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Some people might say that a new year is inconsequential. Many folks make and break resolutions with impunity. Like many, I haven't always considered a new year as significant. However, the longer I walk with the Lord, the more I see the importance for new beginnings. I like to think of a new year as an opportunity to turn over the soil of my heart and to prepare the ground for new seed. Often, this is a new area of my heart where God wants to do an expansive work. In other cases, this is possibly where He has produced a crop but now He wants to plant something different. And, sometimes there are areas that may have once yielded fruit, but have gone fallow due to indifference or disobedience. I have found the best thing to do is not argue with God, thinking I know what's best. Without fail, when He plants what He desires, it always bears forth the fruit He has ordained. That is, as long as I'm obedient and continue to till the land of my heart as He desires.

The use of the plow and fallow ground are simply metaphors for allowing God to use His word to instruct us. While some smaller plows may be pushed by manpower, God's plow can not be pushed by human strength. It is an impossibility to push a plow creating deep furrows in order to sow God's seed. For the sake of this analogy, God provides a mule or a team of oxen---servants to mankind in order to pull the plow through the unbroken earth. The strength of these animals are illustrated by the strength of God and how He empowers his word to accomplish what He sends it forth to accomplish (Isaiah 55:11). However, without man's hand on the plow, God's word will often NOT be sent forth due to lack of faith to lead and guide it. By putting our hand to God's plow and obeying Him, we allow His word to go forth.

Once we put our hand to the plow, Jesus tells us we should never look back. We should understand that while our past has often shaped our present, we cannot allow it to dictate our future. Obedience that cuts a straight furrow through life would be terribly impeded if we were constantly looking back and worried about where he have been rather than where we are going. Paul, a confessed murderer and persecutor of the church tells us in Philippians 3:13 to forget what lies behind and reach forward to what lies ahead. We can do NOTHING about the past, but only make corrections for the future by the experiences acquired in our brief histories. While Jesus' admonition in Luke 17:22-37 refers to His second coming, it is still an important lesson for us to understand in regard to obedience. If we refuse to allow the anxieties of this life to pull us off course, then we will remain stalwart to keep looking ahead. In verse 32, Jesus says, "Remember Lot's wife," a sobering lesson on looking back once we have our put our hands to the proverbial plow (Genesis 19;26).

Time is significant, or God would not have created it. Therefore, it is important to regard new beginnings in time as God-ordained opportunities to start afresh. While man-made resolutions are to the most part useless, we can be assured that God patiently awaits for us to recommit to Him on our spiritual journey. Some of us have taken our hands off the plow and have allowed acres of "heartland" to become fallow. It is time to once again take hold of God's plow, the word of God, and walk steadily and determinably after Him. If we will follow the plow He has given us to guide, He will provide the strength to pull it along. Will we do this perfectly? None of us have, nor will any succeed except One. Jesus Christ will walk along side and coach us the entire length of God's field if we will but allow Him to do so. Before long, the soil of our hearts will be fertile once again to take the seed of God and bear fruit the way He desires. May we all put our hands to God's plow this year, never wavering as the Holy Spirit strengthens us and the Son of God guides our hands. May we all know the blessing of obeying Him in all things this coming year as we put our hands in His hands each and every day.

Heavenly Father, thank you for enabling us to obey You in all things. However, when we fail or take our hands off the plow You have ordained for each of us, may you patiently guide us once again to continue our journey, pressing on toward the goal of the upward call. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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