The true follower of Jesus Christ will do exactly what his/her name implies: follow. This means, of course, that over the miles of their journey, God will take them to new destinations. They will go away from some habits, places, relationships, etc., and toward others.
The Backward Pull
But it’s always tempting to go back. The Israelites, traveling to the Promised Land, were pulled in a moment of need to return to the leeks and onions of Egypt (Numbers 11:5).
Jesus in the New Testament reminded His followers that “no one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62 ESV). The wise writer of Proverbs says such a turn is often “like a dog that returns to its vomit” (Proverbs 26:11).
Recently our church experienced a miraculous step of faith as hundreds of families began to give at a new level of generosity, starting with the tithe. They were called by God to “‘bring the whole tithe into the storehouse … and test Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows’” (Malachi 3:10).
Never before in my 47 years of ministry have I seen the depth of such a turn by a whole church. We have moved to a whole new place, and God’s promises for this new step are stunning.
That happened in October. I thought this morning about the temptation, as the New Year progresses, of slipping back from this resolve. How easy, in this particular area especially, to subtly slide back into Egypt. To slip out of faith. To turn back.
This is just one of many areas where we will be tempted to go back to the familiar. Why would our enemy not seek to pull us away from those places that illustrate God’s dynamic faithfulness to those who follow Him?
“The LORD had blessed Abraham in every way,” Genesis 24:1 records. The reason? When God spoke, Abraham followed in faith. God had led a trusting man into the land of blessings, and he was experiencing the fruits of that journey.
Now close to death, he sought a bride for his son Isaac. He told his servant to return to his old homeland to find a wife.
His servant asked a very practical question: “Suppose the woman is not willing to follow me to this land; should I take your son back to the land from where you came?” (v. 5).
Abraham’s response was immediate and strong: “Beware that you do not take my son back there!” (v. 6). He said this in the strongest possible language.
God had given the land of promise to him and to his descendants (v. 7), and that same God, Abraham said, would provide a wife for his son. Then he said again, “Only do not take my son back there” (v. 8).
Abraham knew the depth of faith and resolve it took to get up and follow God into the Promised Land. He also knew how easy it would be to slide back into the familiar—old ways, old relationships, old paths.
Beware and Be Strong!
This past year, God may have given you an increased burden for our nation—perhaps a new level of surrender, of extraordinary prayer, of deepened repentance. As the New Year begins, are you still there? Still as passionate? Still faithful? Still praying without ceasing? Still repentant?
Perhaps you are being called by some naive friend (or demonic enemy in disguise) to fall back into the familiar old ways—old habits, old pleasures, old relationships, old doubts, old disobediences.
Do not give in! Stand strong and firm, following Christ into the new places He has taken you, the lands that were gained by faith.
“I have decided to follow Jesus,” the old chorus says, “no turning back, no turning back!”