A NEW CHAPTER
Written By Dale Ebel
Once again I am attempting to reduce the amount of content.
“So, Elisha returned to his oxen and slaughtered them. He used the wood from the plow to build a fire to roast their flesh. He passed around the meat to the townspeople, and they all ate. Then he went with Elijah as his assistant (servant).” – 1 Kings 19:21 NLT
In 1519 with some 600 men, 16 horses, and 11 boats, Hernán Cortes landed on a vast inland plateau now called, Mexico. They had come from Spain to the New World in search of some of the world’s greatest treasure. With only 600 men and no protective armor, conquering an empire so extensive became a highly unlikely affair. Instead of charging through cities and forcing his men to immediate battle, Cortes stayed on the beach and awoke the souls of his men with emblazoned speeches ingeniously designed to urge on the spirit of adventure and invoke a thirst for lifetimes of fortune amongst his troops. His orations bore fruit, for what was supposedly a military exploit now took on an extravagant romance in the imagination of the troops. Ironically, it was not the eloquent “preaching” that led to the ultimate victory of those adventures; it was just three words that would change the history of the New World. As they marched inland to face their enemies, Cortes ordered the now famous line,
“Burn the Boats!”
They did and thereby eradicated any possibility of retreat from the minds of the troops. They had to commit themselves unwaveringly to the cause—win or die. Retreat was no longer an option.
If you can compartmentalize the moral conundrum of colonization, there is a lesson to be learned here. We can observe the power of the “no turning back” approach or “starting a new chapter” focus no matter where we are in our age, experiences, or maturity level. We are called to the end of our lives as Christ followers to advance the Kingdom of God. Retreat is not an option for us, is it?
In our hearts we know there is no possibility of retreat, but will we find the faith to leap forward, and to stay the course in fulfilling God’s high calling for each of our lives?
“Let’s not become discouraged in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not become weary.”- Galatians 6:9 NASB
In order to begin a new chapter, we must end an old chapter. The way to do this is with a simple punctuation mark. We can put a period on the page. It gets the job done. But if we want to be more dramatic, we can use an exclamation point. It’s more decisive… more definitive. Then we turn the page and begin a new sentence, which begins a new paragraph, which begins a new chapter.
What’s true in grammar is true in life.
If we want to break a habit, stop a conflict, stay the course, leave the past in the past, begin a new focus, or initiate a new direction, we need a punctuation mark. A comma won’t cut it. Neither will a semicolon. We need an exclamation point in our life!
Elisha didn’t need to burn his plowing equipment to follow Elijah, but it made a statement. More specifically it was a statement of faith. There was no turning back. If his prophetic apprenticeship with Elijah didn’t pan out he had no place else to turn.
I am reminded of the powerful dialogue the disciples had with the Lord Jesus Christ—
“From that time on many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. 67 Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” 68 Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. 69 We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” – John 6:66-69 NLT
I get a sobering and thrilling chill every time I read these words! Retreat is not an option!
The disciples were entrusted and empowered with the advancement of the kingdom of God. Jesus expected them to respond to this call with ardent resolve and tenacity and anyone who did not “keep his glance forward” after placing his hand on the plow was not a candidate for the Kingdom of God. Pretty sobering stuff, isn’t it?
“Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’” – Luke 9:62 NIV
Elisha was writing a new chapter. He ended one phase of his life with an exclamation point! This was Elisha’s moment. Elisha wasn’t just buying in. He was selling out. Writing a new chapter is being fully present in the here and now. It’s not living in the past tense or the future tense. That doesn’t mean we don’t learn from the past or plan for the future, but we don’t live there. Writing a new chapter means living as though each day is the first day and last day of our lives.
I almost titled this teaching article: Defining Decisions. Writing a new chapter is a defining decision accompanied by a dramatic action or a not so sensational step of obedience that demonstrates we are committed to Jesus Christ and His cause.
These questions I ask myself and I ask you”
- Have you, or are you, concluding a chapter?
- What is the punctuation mark you are writing?
- What is the first line of your new chapter?
- What small steps of obedience in the right direction will you and/or are you taking?
The verse below reverberates in the chambers of my inner spirit….
“Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed.”– Act 13:36 NIV
Writing a new chapter with you!