I wanted to be a rock star. If you know me, this is not hard to believe. If you know me well, you already knew this! There's a reason Dylan sang about "3 chords and the truth". Millions who are simply armed with a fraction of musical ability and a morsel of conviction and zeal for what they believe set out down this path. And eventually wind up walking home, tail between their legs, feeling like they've just been handed a Simon Cowell beat down! But hey, reach for the stars, right!?
When it became clear to everyone (except me) that the Lord had put me on this earth for other things - specifically to serve him and make disciples - I didn't get the memo. Actually, it was more like I got it, I just wouldn't read it. It was wadded up in my back seat with gum stuck to it. Even after I moved my wife 300 miles north of our families, taken on a position as a full-time youth pastor (which was one of the greatest decisions of my life), I still spent a year in silent protest with God about His misguided plans for me. The way I saw it, HE was the one not getting the memo! And then one very dreary January day in the year 2000, I had finally had enough. I pulled my car over to the side of the road and began to let God know that it was time we had it out about this. I'm not sure, but I think I was having one of those "I'm going to draw a line in the sand" moments. But what wound up happening was He was the one who drew the line in the sand. A very big, clear, deep, fat line...right down the middle of my beach. It was time to decide: Am I going to wholeheartedly pour my life into this - into the lives of these amazing students and people - or am I going to keep second guessing God and being of no use to anyone?
[Fast-forward to this morning - reading in 1 Kings 19]
When Elijah meets with the Lord on the mountain - when he finally shuts up and humbly hears the "still small voice" of God - he's told to go and find Elisha and anoint him to be his replacement as God's prophet. When Elijah finds Elisha out plowing a field, he simply walks over to him, throws his cloak across his shoulder, and walks away. Elisha knows what this means. This is Elijah telling him, "I'm transferring my authority and responsibility over to you!" This is a BIG deal! Scripture tells us that he leaves his oxen, goes and tells his parents, "Peace out. Love you Momma and Daddy!" (my translation), and then (without hesitation) he "returned to his oxen, killed them, and used the wood from the plow to build a fire and roast their flesh." The plowmen were eatin' good in the neighborhood that night! Elisha was done.
The reason this speaks so vividly to me even now is because 10 years ago I wasted a year of my life dragging "my oxen" behind me! Elisha made the decision. He severed the ties. Burned the ships. He took those oxen - he took any thought of halfhearted commitment or second-guessing - and slaughtered it right there in that field. Can you imagine if he'd shown up at Elijah's house with all his oxen? Awkward! Yet, how many of us SAY we're letting go and stepping out in faith in the direction we believe the Lord is leading us...all the while still hanging on to what we want, what we think we deserve, or simply what we know?
I would say that God won the argument in the car that day, but it wasn't an argument. God doesn't argue. We do. He was simply asking me, "Are you ready to get to work? Are you finally ready to kill the oxen?" Looking back, I'm very thankful that I finally slaughtered those ugly beasts!