Pastor Lydia P. Ford
Scripture: John 4:9-14, 27-29; Mark 10:29
Blog Topic: “Leaving It All Behind You”
Many years ago, when our children Danielle and Trevor were young, we took them on vacation to Virginia, Washington D.C. area. We stayed in Virginia close to King’s Dominion Amusement Park. We drove to Bush Gardens and also visited a water park in that vicinity as well. We wanted them to see the White House and other landmarks and statues in Washington D. C. On our visit there, we took them to see Washington’s Monument, Lincoln’s Monument, the State Capitol building, and the U. S Mint, the place where they make money. It was at that building I believe where my husband, Tom, lost his wallet. I think he took it out to buy one of the kids a souvenir and laid it down somewhere.
Leaving things behind like a wallet can be very troublesome, especially in these days of identity thief and credit card fraud. Would you believe that some kind gentleman found Tom’s wallet and mailed it right to our address. You do not find many honest people who would show such kindness today, but every now and then, you hear remarkable stories of people who do return things of value.
Leaving things behind, though, is not always a bad thing. In John 4, we read a story about a woman who had come to Jacob’s well to draw water in the heat of the day, which was a bit unusual for women to do so in those days. But on that day, she met a pretty interesting fellow. She encountered Jesus. They engaged in conversation and after He revealed some interesting facts from her life, she changed her perspective, her intentions, and her plans. She forgot about what she had come to the well for and suddenly left her water pots behind, She hurried into town to tell others what Jesus had said to her (Vv. 28-29). Even her physical need for water paled in comparison to telling others about the Man she had just met, which told her some details that were going on in her life at the time. Her new life of as an evangelist was born that day , and she left her old life style of sin hopefully behind.
There is another story of people who had left something behind. Let’s take a look at these characters. In Matthew 4:18-20, Peter and Andrew did something similar when Jesus called them. They left their fishing nets (which was the way their livelihood, the way they made their money). They left their job and went to follow Jesus. But that is not all; James and John left their nets, boat, and even their father when Jesus beckoned and called them into service. (VV 21-22).
After the 12 disciples had been with Jesus for some time, they began to discern that this Jesus thing, this servant hood ministry was not a cake walk. It was not something to be envied by others; it was not comfortable, desirable, grandiose, and influential. It was risky business. There was no glory to be obtained by it. Jesus rebuked them numerous times. He chastised them because of their little or no faith. He embarrassed them by healing a demonically possessed boy whom they tried and failed to heal.
Following Jesus was dangerous many times; people went hungry; tiredness and loneliness often set in; discouragement, anger, frustration met them on their journey with Jesus to the cross. The disciples began to wonder if they had made a mistake by becoming one of His disciples. They wanted a king. They wanted someone that would make them look good feel and important. But that is not what He came to do. In Mark 10:29 Jesus told His weary band of soldiers these words: “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers of sisters or father or mother or wife” or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, “who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time- houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, watch this, with persecution-and in the age to come, eternal life.”
Jesus wanted to let them know that whatever they were willing to leave behind; He was going to make it good; He was going to make it count for something; he was going to make sure they go their just reward, down here and in heaven. He did not say that if would be easy; notice he uses the word, “with persecution” to emphasize that this walk was going to cost them something; and it is going to cost you something too! Jesus knows the sacrifice that you must make to follow Him. Nevertheless, trust Jesus and keep your eyes on the prize, Eternal Life!
Well, let’s see if we can call forth another witness who was called to leave something behind. Let’s go 1Samuel 1:11. In the text we find barren Hannah who grew bitter and tired of her nemesis Peninnah mocking and making fun of her inability to give Elkanah a child. In verse 11 she prays to the Lord and makes a solemn vow. In that vow she promised God that if he would open up her womb and allow her to conceive a son, she would give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head. The Lord heard her prayer and answered it by giving her a son. Hannah made good on her promise to God. When the boy Samuel was old enough to be weaned, she took him to Shiloh to the priest, which was Eli at that time, and left him there. Did you hear that? She left him behind.
Did she make a mistake, did she regret it? I doubt it. She had confidence and trust in God Almighty. She knew that God was going to do something special in the life of her child, and He did. We know that because of her faithfulness and the paying of her vow, that God opened up her womb and gave her and Elkanah more children. Church sometimes you have to leave things behind and trust that God will take what you have left and turn it into an unexpected blessing. What you let go of in your hands just might become a miracle in God’s hands.
Ok, let me give you just one more example from the Old Testament Book of 1 Kings 19:1-19. In this text we find a tired, worn out, exhausted, frustrated, scared Prophet by the name of Elijah. Elijah had just won his greatest victory at Mt. Carmel, defeating the 450 prophets of Baal in a showdown of sorts. You know the story of how the prophets of Baal called on their gods all day, but the sacrifice that laid upon the altar did not burn up; and then when it was Elijah’s turn, he cleaned off the altar, saturated the sacrifice, the wood, and everything around it with water; and he called upon the name of Jehovah God and everything connected to the altar and the sacrifice was licked up; even every drop of water. The people cried out, “The Lord Jehovah, YWHW, He is God.”
Elijah was on an all-time high, but then Jezebel heard that Elijah had all her prophets slain, and that is when she put a hit out for him. Elijah takes off like a scared rabbit. In in chapter 19 we find him hiding out in a cave. Now I have said too much about this already so let me get to my point: In verse 19 after God summons Elijah out on the mountain cliff to have a heart to heart; He tells him three things. Go to Damacus and anoint Hazel as king over Syria, also anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place.
Now check this out; Elijah departs from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him.
Although there are variations of the meaning of mantle in the Bible, the main idea is that of a covering such as a cloak or other article of clothing. The New American Standard Bible uses the word mantle in Joshua 7:21 and Hebrews 1:12. In biblical times, a mantle was typically a large, loosely fitting garment, a robe made of animal skin, probably sheepskin. Prophets were known for wearing mantles as a sign of their calling from God. The prophet Samuel wore a mantle (1 Samuel 15:27). The prophet Elijah “threw his cloak around [Elisha]” as a symbol of Elijah’s ministry being passed on to Elisha. The prophet’s mantle was an indication of his authority and responsibility as God’s chosen spokesman. Elisha was not confused as to what Elijah was doing; the putting on of his mantle made his election clear. This was a way of letting Elisha know that he had been chosen to follow and be Elijah’s mentee or protégé. Have you been chosen, who are you supposed to be following? Whose mantle is upon your life and what are you willing and able to do about it?
Look what happens in verse 20. And it reads: “And he, meaning Elisha, left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, “Please let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him. Go back again, for what have I done to you?” So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen’s equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his.
Elijah wasn’t even certain that he wanted to be bothered with his new protégé. But he was being obedient to God. He probably wasn’t too keen about the fact that God was going to be replacing him soon. Remember, the sad song the prophet was singing when God saw him in that cave. “I’m the only one left here from this evil people to serve you. God had to remind him that He has 7000 that had not bowed to Baal yet!
Elisha was lucky that Elijah waited on him. Sometimes you have to move now; you don’t even get a “Time Out,” a chance to say your good-byes. Jesus himself is saying, leave it all behind you. Listen; don’t be like Lot’s wife, who lost her life after having been warned by the angel, as they were leaving Sodom and Gomorrah, not to look back. Remember, she took one last look and turned into a pillar of salt.
Again Jesus warns us about looking back and this is my final example, as I push my point even further. Let us hear these verses of Scripture in Luke 9:56-62
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
What is God asking you to leave behind today? Are you willing to follow him or are you going to make excuses like these fellows in the verses above. Sometimes you will have to make the journey all by yourself. God doesn’t call us two by two, or in groups. He speaks to each of us individually, one by one. That is how unique and special you are to Him. It is a closed conversation, it is extremely private, so no one is privy to what He is saying and dealing with you about.
Will you leave it all behind, this and that, this this and that, to follow Jesus? Imagine what your life and mine would have been if Jesus did not leave His royal home on high to come here in human flesh, sacrifice his life on the cross, so that you and I could enter into a relationship with Him. He left it all behind because of the love that the Father has for you and for me.
Our new life of following Jesus Christ may mean that we have to leave things behind, including those that don’t bring lasting satisfaction. What we once craved cannot compare with the life and “Living Water” that Jesus offers.
May God Bless You and Keep You is my prayer. Amen