Burn Your Bridges and Dance Within Their Flames
1 Kings 19:19-21
19 So he (meaning Elijah) departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him.
20 And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee?
21 And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.
18 And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.
20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.
21 And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.
22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.
23 And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.
In these two passages of scripture, we see two rich men that are being called to follow the Lord. Elisha was called as the great prophet Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him. The ‘certain ruler’ we see in Luke’s gospel, approached Jesus to ask him, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
Each was given the same choice. Each chose a different path to follow. Elisha chose to follow the man of God. The rich man walked away from Jesus-literally God himself!
All throughout scripture, we see men and women being called to follow after God.
Some gave excuses:
• They had to bury their father,
• They bought some land they had to check on,
• They bought some oxen they had to try out,
• Or they married a wife and they needed to go home to her.
These excuses were more than just, “Give me a minute and I’ll follow you…”
They were circumstances that entailed many years of commitment to something other than God.
Basically they were saying, “When I have the time for you, I’ll come back.”
Some, like Peter, James, John and Andrew, immediately dropped whatever they were doing and followed The Master.
The portion of scripture we just read in 1 Kings, recounts the story of Elijah as he passed by Elisha and placed his mantle on his shoulders, calling him to follow after him. The call was actually to the one who would replace him, Elijah, the mighty prophet of God.
At first glance, Elisha’s response to the call, could be taken as we just saw others responded, “I need to go tell my parents good-bye and then I can follow you.”
Elijah responded with, And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee? KJV
The NLT puts it this way, “Go on back, but think about what I have done to you.”
Elisha had a decision to make that would forever change who he was and the path he would follow from that day forward.
Elisha didn’t waste any time. He did go back home. When he got there, he killed the yoke of oxen he was plowing with, used their implements, or yoke, to kindle a fire to cook the oxen in, fed the people, probably his family and the field hands, then he left to follow the man of God, Elijah.
Elijah never asked Elisha to do what he did when he went back home. I believe Elisha killed the yoke of oxen, which represented his profession, his inheritance, literally his future, and burned them, because he wanted to make the highest statement of commitment he could to his family, his friends and the man of God that he was going to follow the call of God.
He literally burned the bridges to his past and danced, or celebrated, within their flames!
The rich ruler Jesus spoke with, chose a very different path. He had ably followed the commandments of the Lord all his life. Evidently he felt a calling to a deeper ministry is why he approached Jesus to ask his question, but when presented with the hard, cold facts of the sacrifices he would have to make, he couldn’t part with his riches to follow his deeper calling.
God never asked or required Elisha to burn his oxen. Elisha just knew that to really follow after God, there were some permanent changes that had to be made in his life.
If you are serving the Lord today, it is because one day He called out to you. When He called out to you, you had a choice to make: will I follow Jesus, or will I walk away? Will the call require a greater price than I am willing to pay?
Actually you have the same choice to make every day. Every day you face situations and circumstances that determine whether you will continue to follow the Lord or not.
Personally, I believe that everyone will have the opportunity to make that same decision in his or her life. The scripture tells us: Matthew 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen. KJV
Unfortunately, many never make the choice to follow Jesus, while others may follow Him for a while, but then they’ll turn their back on Him, and walk away because they find the cost is too great.
We are all given the opportunity to walk away from God. Every test in life gives us the opportunity to turn and walk away from God! Every test!
The children of Israel had prayed for a deliverer for over 400 years, when the Lord answered their prayers and sent Moses to deliver them and take them from the bondage of slavery. It wasn’t long before the ‘tests’ began, and every test they faced, they wanted to run back to Egypt-to the bondage of slavery, because they felt comfortable there! If it wasn’t for Moses and his intercession, the children of Israel would have returned to Egypt and never reached the Promised Land!
When we begin to follow ‘the call’ we feel on our lives, there will be tests and trials.
We cannot live our life however we want to and think that we are ‘saved.’ We must pass the tests of life as we follow after Christ.
Regardless of what some people say, there is no such thing as eternal security. There is no “once saved, always saved.” The scripture is clear that you can turn your back on God. And like the scriptures say: it is just like a dog returning to his own vomit.
2 Peter 2:20-22 NLT
And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before. It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life. They prove the truth of this proverb: “A dog returns to its vomit.” And another says, “A washed pig returns to the mud.”
Luke 9:62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
Since the Lord called me, as a nineteen-year-old college student, over forty-five years ago, I have never looked back. I have never been tempted to look back.
Have I made mistakes? Yes. Have I had to “retake” some tests? Yes.
I made a commitment to the Lord to serve Him all the days of my life. I burned some bridges in my life that I chose never to return to.
Perhaps you have heard the old saying: “Don’t burn your bridges behind you.” That may be true in some of life’s circumstances, but I’m here to tell you that to really serve the Lord, there are some bridges that you need to burn!
Bridges that tie you to your past: past relationships, past experiences, past habits, past sins and past hurts, can destroy your walk with God. Old bitterness and un-forgiveness can destroy you.
Just like Elisha, there are some bridges we need to burn in our lives, and we need to dance within their flames!!!
Perhaps Elisha knew that unless he destroyed those things, he would always be drawn back to them.
What are you constantly being drawn to?
If you are struggling in your relationship with God, perhaps it is because you have hung on to some relationships from the past. Perhaps you are close to someone who constantly puts you down because of your religion and the changes you have made in your life in order to serve God.
Maybe you are involved in a relationship that you know is wrong. Perchance you are struggling with Internet sites that waste precious time and sap your spiritual joy.
Maybe you haven’t quit listening to the music you listened to when you were in the world and you are continually drawn back to it.
Perhaps it’s some items that God convicted you about wearing, but you haven’t gotten rid of them yet so you are constantly tempted to wear them.
I know that in my own life, God dealt with me about wearing a certain type of clothing. I quit wearing them, but I didn’t get rid of them, I just put them in a bottom drawer of my dresser. It wasn’t too long before I got them out again and started wearing them. After all, my mind justified, what’s really wrong with them? They look nice, and they were pretty expensive, I can’t just throw them away…
I can show you exactly where I was on the expressway in Akron, Ohio, when God spoke to my heart, and gave me the spanking of my life, when in the saddest voice He asked, “Didn’t I tell you not to do that?”
He gave me a second chance and I had a choice to make.
I went home and immediately threw all of those items in the trash and I have never been tempted to wear them since.
I’m not going to tell you that it is easy to burn the bridges of your past. I’m not going to tell you that there won’t be trials and tests as a result of your decision to follow Christ. It’s not easy to sell out to Jesus, the rich ruler proved that, but it is possible!
It all has to do with how you respond to God when He calls you to follow Him, and how you take steps each day to renew your commitment to Him.
I don’t know how old you are spiritually in the Lord. You might be two weeks old, thirty years old, or two months old, even though you have been in the church for years.
Perhaps you haven’t really grown very much spiritually and you have been wondering why. Maybe there are some bridges you need to burn in your life to set you free to grow spiritually in Jesus!
Believe it or not, some things may literally need to be burned so you are not continually drawn back to them!
• Idols- figurines, pictures, or wall hangings that represent other religions beliefs
• Books-posters, magazines, or other printed materials that are ungodly
• Clothes-things you once enjoyed wearing but just don’t feel the same now that you are filled with the Holy Spirit
• Music-that draws you back to the person you used to be
• Anything that draws your mind to unholy, ungodly things from your past
1 Peter 4:3-4 tells us that because of your prior lifestyle, people aren’t going to understand you, to the point that they will speak evil of you.
3You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols.
4Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you. NLT
I don’t know about you, but some of my friends thought I was pretty strange when I didn’t want to go to the bars or the concerts any more! They thought it was pretty strange that I was happy all the time and that I had a peace in my life that they had never seen me have before. A peace they desired but weren’t willing to sacrifice for!
Unfortunately, when my husband and I received the Holy Spirit, my own mother made the comment, “I don’t associate with those kind of people.”
She maybe didn’t then, but I have to say that thirteen years after I received the Holy Spirit, my mother received the Holy Spirit and was baptized in Jesus Name! She burned some bridges to her past and danced within their flames as she followed the calling of The Lord Jesus Christ!
As a Christian, you will have tests and trials. Serving Jesus really isn’t a ‘bed of roses’. It is beautiful beyond compare, but there are thorns that you will have to deal with!
1 Peter 4:12-17 tells us not to think it strange that there are fiery trials to go through.
Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.
If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you. If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs. But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his name! For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News?
I’ve found that to be a Christian, you can’t be a wimp!
Some Holy Ghost filled people hang on to hurts and failures from their past. They refuse to allow wounds from the past to heal and they refuse to accept the unconditional forgiveness Jesus gives.
As difficult as it may seem, you must get over the past, to reach to the things that are ahead. We cannot live in the past. We must forgive those that have hurt us, including ourselves, and press toward the high calling of God in Christ Jesus!
The scriptures tell us: Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. KJV
Habits are another thing we bring with us when we begin our walk with Jesus. There are some habits that we need to get rid of!
Eph 4:22-27 NLT
22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
When you keep the things of the past around, you are giving place to the devil. You are allowing him to keep a foothold in your life and at a weak moment, he will attack you with a temptation you might not be able to withstand.
John Bevere, calls unforgiveness, the ‘bait of Satan’ as he explains how detrimental offenses can become in our lives, if we do not let them go and properly handle them.
Paul told us in Phil 3:13-14 NLT
13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
What are some bridges in your life that you need to burn today, so that you can dance and celebrate within their flames? Bridges that you want to burn so you can be set free to be all that The Lord Jesus Christ would have you be.