Total Abandonment

Total Abandonment
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.
1 Kings 19: 21
Have you ever wondered what the word “abandon” means? When we hear that word, immediately we step into a negative mind set. It doesn’t sound as though it could be encouraging or even lead to anything positive at all. And yet, today, we are going to recognize how positive total abandonment can be. According to the dictionary, Abandon is defined as “giving up completely (a course of action, a practice, or a way of thinking).” It’s a recognition of the futility in continuing the same course of action in life.
I happened to be walking across a bridge over the James River a few weeks ago. As I crossed over, I found myself reading the historical quotes of people during the end of the Civil War that were laid out on the boards on the bridge. In April 1865, the war was coming to an end, the city was burning, and uncertainty loomed ahead. One particular gentleman, Confederate Naval Secretary Stephen Mallory, ordered the men under his command to destroy the naval ships that the confederate government had been building in the shipyard near Richmond. They knew that there was no way to continue moving in the direction that they were going, and so they destroyed the only thing that they had known, so that they might find purpose ahead of them.
That quote (command that he gave) reminded me of the story of Elijah and Elisha in 1 Kings 19. Elijah was the prophet of God. The time had come when God was going to point out and set aside who Elijah’s successor would be as the prophet to the people of God. Chaos had erupted among God’s people, but now He was bringing about restoration. There was going to be a great season of rebirth and renewal. Elisha was going to be part of that restorative plan, but it was going to take a willingness on his part to look forward and trust.
Elisha was wealthy. He came from a background that was financially very successful. How do we know that? In chapter 19, Elijah comes to Elisha while he is working the oxen in the field. At first glance, that might not sound like a big deal. But we have to remember the time period and the culture. To have one set of oxen to work your field, clearly illustrated that person was wealthy. Yet, Elisha didn’t have just one set of oxen. He had 12. Not only was Elisha wealthy, he had more wealth than just about anyone around him. Elisha would never have to worry about anything financial in his entire life. It was almost sickening how much material wealth he possessed.
While Elisha is working in the field, Elijah simply walks up to him and throws his cloak over him. At that moment, Elisha had a choice to make. He had to decide if he would continue to follow down the path of life he was on right then, which no doubt would have seen tremendous wealth and material prosperity; or he would surrender to the path that God was laying out for Him, filled with uncertainty. In a split second he had to make a decision that would alter the course of his life forever.
Elisha chose the path of complete and total abandonment. He surrendered to God and followed Him, even with the reality of an uncertain path and an uncertain future. When he had the oxen killed and the plows destroyed, He threw away every possibility of retreat. He knew that He was going to follow God and His plan forever, or die trying. There was a trust that what God had for Him was going to guide him to the purpose for which he was born!
Today, too many of us are unwilling to throw away and destroy every possibility of retreat. We see the word Abandon, and we immediately head down a path of death and destruction, as though God had no idea what He was doing. We assume that when He asks us to live a life of abandonment, it will only lead to our demise. My friends, God is calling us forward, and that requires abandonment. We have to abandon our ways of doing things that stand in opposition to God. We have to be willing to move forward even if we don’t see a way of retreat! I want to encourage you to embrace God’s plan for your life. Live life with a total abandonment to your own ideas and thoughts and embrace the purpose for which you were created–to Glorify God.

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