Plow Forward

You may have noticed the last two articles seem a little contradictory.  After all, the moral of Cooking Tip #1 is to consider your actions before you leap; the moral of Non-Newtonian Fluids is to leave the pondering to someone else.  Leap out of the boat and go with gusto!  So wait, aren’t those contradictory?

Personally, I prefer the term “complementary.”  Here’s why. 

In Cooking Tip #1 we looked at what happens when we act impulsively on our own hasty desires without considering the consequences.  In this case, the desire originated from us.  It’s something we want.  And anytime it’s something we want, we need to pause and consider the consequences.  Is it also something God wants?

Interestingly, Peter’s walk on the water (Matthew 14:22-33) also originated with something he wanted.  It was Peter who first said, “Lord if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.”  But think about this for a minute.  Peter didn’t just decide: “Check it out!  Jesus is walking on the water!  I’m going to walk on water too!” and hurl himself out of the boat.  He told Jesus “[You] tell me to come to you.” 

Jesus could have said, “No, you fool, stay in the boat.”  But He didn’t.  In another exhibition of His glory and power, Jesus said, “Come.”  And at that point there was no more time for second thoughts.  It was too late for Peter to shout “Just kidding!”  The time for pondering was over.  The time for action had arrived.  Peter got out of the boat and went.

Jesus is very clear, at several points within the Gospel accounts, that when He calls, it is our job to follow.  We see this in the calling of the disciples.  “Follow me,” He said.  And every time He called, his true disciples dropped everything and followed Him.  Then, before sending out the seventy-two, Jesus told those following Him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

Once we are called, we must move forward.  Once we step out of the boat, we must not look at the wind or the waves.  We must not hesitate.  Even when opposition blocks our path or makes us stumble – physical opposition, emotional opposition, mental opposition – we must put our hand to the plow and move forward.  Even when faith itself is weak, we must dig in and plow forward.

I love what C.S. Lewis wrote about faith in Mere Christianity1.  “Faith…is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods” (p. 140).  In other words, faith is keeping our hand to the plow once we have started.  Even when, as C.S. Lewis wrote, our “emotions will rise up and carry out a sort of blitz” (p. 140).

Plowing forward is not blind activity; it is commitment to what we believe.  It is commitment to Who we believe.  C.S. Lewis noted: “I am not talking of moments at which any real new reasons against Christianity turn up.  Those have to be faced and that is a different matter.  I am talking about moments when a mere mood rises up against it” (p. 140).  He is talking, in other words, about the wind and the waves that we must simply plow through.  The wind and the waves are scary, but they do not change the fact that Jesus is still standing there, calling. 

Christianity has never been a contradiction between reason and faith.  It is prudent to check our desires and to seek wise counsel in our actions.  But once God has called us – whether generally into His Christian family or specifically to some purpose you feel He is guiding you toward – the time for hesitation has passed.  When He calls, we must plow forward.

 “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

1 Lewis, C.S. (1980). Mere Christianity. New York: HarperCollins.

2 Comments

  1. Toby on April 30, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Once again, thank you, just want my heart needed and Jesus ordered. This is a repeat from my devotion this morning of Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (for today, in the book, but here is a link to that devotion [different schedule] https://utmost.org/do-not-quench-the-spirit/).
    in humbleness and by His Grace.

  2. Toby on April 30, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Sorry wrong one, here is the right devo I read this morning… A Hah! found it, here is a link to what I read this morning:
    https://cupoverflowing.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/lord-i-will-follow-you-but/

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Meet Janet!

Janet Beagle, PhD is the founder of The Mustard Patch. She divides her time between the Midwest and New England, and if she’s not writing, she’s probably out hiking with her 2-and 4-footed friends.