Plow Straight

Luke 9:57-62...And as they [disciples and Jesus] were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.”  And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”  And He said to another, “Follow Me.”  But he said, “Permit me first to go and bury my father.”  But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”  And another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.”  But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

I grew up on a farm in northeast Ohio, in the time before women’s lib and equal opportunity became part of our society.  In those days, women did women’s work, and men did men’s work.  My dad ascribed to that for the most part, but he did let us womenfolk do a few of the more “manly” chores--we could feed cattle, run the tractor to rake or bale hay, grind feed.  But there were some tasks that were “men only”:  driving tractor on the road, forking silage, planting crops, cultivating those same crops, and--most important--plowing.  Dad was hesitant even to let my older brothers plow.  The furrows had to be straight, and it took an experienced hand at the wheel to make that happen.  To plow straight, you had to find a spot ahead of you in the distance and aim for it, fixing your eyes firmly on that spot.  If you looked anywhere other than at your target spot, you would jeopardize your straight line.

Jesus knew this.  Even if, as in those days, you were pushing the plow by hand or dragging it behind a horse, you had to focus on what was ahead.  If you turned, your plowing was spoiled.  Look what happened to Lot’s wife, when she turned to look back at the home she was leaving.  She turned into a pillar of salt.  Jesus Himself, just a few verses before these, “when the days were approaching for His ascension, He resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem.”  He did not waver, even when tempted to by His own followers.  He had His focus, and nothing was going to cause Him to deviate from His goal.  His furrow was straight.

Lord, we are bombarded on all sides with temptations and diversions.  Help us to fix our focus on You, and to head straight for You.  Help us to forget what lies behind us, and to reach for what You have ahead for us.  Please forgive us when we plow a little crooked.  Help us to get back on track, and to press on.  We pray in the Name of Jesus, who resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem despite knowing what He would have to endure.  Amen.