So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant. (I Kings 19:21)
On February 19, 1519, the Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes set sail for Mexico. His entourage included 11 ships, 13 horses, 110 sailors, and 553 soldiers. The indigenous people they would encounter outnumbered them by a 7,541 to 1 ratio.
It is reported that upon landing he gave the order, “Burn the ships.” Can you imagine how those men felt as they watched the ships burn and sink? There would be no Plan B. It was Plan A or nothing! Now, let’s go back to Elisha.
Elisha was born and raised in a region called Abel Molah. The English meaning for this Hebrew word is “meadow of dancing.” This region was the breadbasket of the Jordan River valley. Most of the farms in the valley were small. The fact that Elisha had twelve yokes of oxen indicated that he was from a fairly wealthy family.
Elisha felt God’s call to be a prophet. Although he could have spent a prosperous life in this valley, he stepped out in faith and made a definitive statement. He slaughtered his oxen, burned his plowing equipment and cooked his source of wealth for dinner. Again, there was no Plan B. It was Plan A or nothing. So it is with the important things in our lives.
Whether we are getting an education, beginning a career, or getting out of debt, the first step is always the hardest. That first step is simply making a definitive statement about our Plan A – “burning the ships” so to speak. It is no different when choosing to really follow and serve our Lord.
How did Elisha’s choice turn out? In II Kings 2:19 Elijah asked Elisha what he could do for him before he was taken up into heaven. Elisha’s answer was, “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit.” Well, Scripture records twenty-eight miracles that occurred in his life. This was exactly twice the miracles that took place in his mentor – Elijah’s life. Stepping out with finality to live for God is always the best Plan A to which we can commit ourselves.
So, let’s “burn the ships” of past failure, past success, guilt and fear. Plan B will never accomplish our ultimate goal. However, God will reward absolute commitment to Him – which should be our Plan A.
Dave Snyder is an Ordained Bishop with the Church of God – Cleveland, Tennessee. Before entering the ministry on a full-time basis, he was a school teacher. He also coached middle school basketball for eight years.
Dave and his wife, Sara, have two children — Craig and Karen. They also have one ten year old granddaughter — Breanna.
Dave and Sara pastored in West Virginia for thirty-six years. Sara is now retired from the banking industry, and Dave is retired from pastoring. However, Dave currently serves as prison Chaplain for the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Writing essays, articles, and devotionals is a real passion for Dave. He also enjoys playing musical instruments and singing.