When the road of life leads us into difficult seasons, it is easy to be tempted to go back to the place that was more comfortable. When we decide to swing for the fence, take the big risk, only to strike out, it is tempting to stick with the status quo. Let’s face it, risk can hurt and leave you horribly disappointed. Change can be unsettling, and stretch us beyond our comfort zone. At the same time, we have heard it said that if you always do what you have always done, you will always have what you have always had.
This makes me think about the Children of Israel. They were held captive to serve as slaves to the Egyptians, yet they were God’s chosen people living so far below their destiny. God raised up Moses, who would lead them out of their captivity and toward their promise. With the Red Sea behind them and their enemy destroyed, they found themselves in the wilderness, in a difficult season wishing to go back to slavery.
For many, the familiar, even if it is slavery, is better than the unknown is. This mentality limits progress and traps us in a place of mediocrity and in some cases misery. Some of the Israelites died in the wilderness and never saw the land they were destined to inherit. They were out of Egypt, but Egypt was not out of them. They could not seem to stop looking back.
We read a different story of a man who was not afraid to head into the unknown. Elijah, one of the greatest prophets of all time, was directed by God to anoint Elisha to succeed him.
Elijah went straight out and found Elisha son of Shaphat in a field where there were twelve pairs of yoked oxen at work plowing; Elisha was in charge of the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak over him. 20 Elisha deserted the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Please! Let me kiss my father and mother good-bye — then I’ll follow you.” “Go ahead,” said Elijah, “but, mind you, don’t forget what I’ve just done to you.” 21 So Elisha left; he took his yoke of oxen and butchered them. He made a fire with the plow and tackle and then boiled the meat — a true farewell meal for the family. Then he left and followed Elijah, becoming his right-hand man. (1 Kings 19:19-21 The Message Bible)
Elisha had a very different response than many of the Children of Israel did. He was so determined to avoid being tempted to look back, that he burned his equipment and sacrificed his oxen! He had nothing to go back for.
What encouragement for us today. We can grow and learn from our past, but if we want to move forward, we cannot be tempted to look back. Albert Einstein defined insanity, “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Make a decision today to swing for the fence, take the risk, head toward the unknown, and become everything God has called you to be. Don’t give in to the temptation to look back to your old ways, your old life, or your past disappointments and mistakes. The Bible tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)