Written by: Jeremiah Storkson
When I was young, my dad taught me a lot of lessons that I use to this day. One of the more helpful ones was how to mow the yard. I am not a huge fan of yardwork at all, but at that age, learning to mow was a coming-of-age moment. I felt like a man. It was a big moment of growth. I remember very clearly the extensive moments where my dad would show me how to mow. I was a goofy kid who could not focus very well at times (I haven’t changed too much since then), so it was a task for my dad to teach me. But, eventually, I learned.
One of the main things he taught me was how to cut a straight line in the grass. We had almost an acre in our backyard at the time, so making sure the job was done well was important. My dad, as a way of teaching me, told me to find a spot at the end of the yard and literally to not keep my eyes off that spot. This would help me stay on the right path and not swerve off, creating twisted lines rather than straight ones. So, I picked my spot, and I tried to keep my eyes on it. I was not perfect by any means, but I’d like to say that I wasn’t that bad at mowing lawns by the end of it. The game-changer was keeping my eyes on where I was going. Jesus, in the book of Luke, discusses this idea: this idea of focusing on Jesus in our lives, and rejecting the urge to take our eyes off Him.
As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9: 57-62 (NIV)
This passage always challenges me. Jesus is challenging the narrative that the inquiring man lived by. He is saying that if he wants to follow Jesus, the man needs to have his eyes solely on Him. He needs to prioritize Jesus over even his own family. And then the last verse says that those who look back are unfit for the kingdom of God.
What is Jesus trying to say to us through this passage? I believe it is a call to focus. It is a call and a challenge to leave behind the things of old and to simply lock your eyes on Jesus.
What did 2018 look like for you? Was it happy, full of excitement and great memories? Did it have some pain, heartbreak, or difficult circumstances? Do you now find yourself trying to focus on the goal ahead and to keep your eyes on Jesus, but the past keeps running after you? I want to encourage you that freedom from the past only comes when our eyes are fixated on who Jesus is: on His love and the value He has given you.
When I mowed and kept my eyes on my destination, the cut was straight. It was the moment where I turned my eyes even just a little bit away from the destination to look behind me that I would swerve away. When we are focusing on Jesus and our eyes are on Him, our past has no choice but to stay behind us. That is the beauty of who God is. So, this year, rather than holding on to the past, or even the normalcy of your life, choose to keep your eyes on Jesus. The past carries no power where He is present.