19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said… 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
Matthew 4:19-20

This week, in Melissa Taylor’s Online Bible Study, we were challenged to look at the example of the disciples leaving their nets in comparison to Elisha burning his plows (See 1 Kings 19:21). This was actually a rather easy question for me to answer, but much harder for me to be obedient to.  I have been working on greater things for God by infusing God’s joy into my entire life; not just the big things, but the small everyday things too.  God expects me to be an example of his love to my children, my husband, my family, my friends, my community and everyone else I come into contact with.  While this is my hope from the bottom of my heart, the ugliness of life can get in the way.  The excuses start when my weaknesses become evident.

At this point in my life, I have been married to my husband for nearly 10 years and we have three amazing boys, who are five, three, and not quite a year old.  I am amazingly blessed with a husband who loves God and works with me to raise our children.  My children are healthy and happy and bring so much joy. There are an infinite number of other blessings I could be thankful for, but that is not the point of this message. My family is still human.  My husband will occasionally do something that irritates me or even more likely, my kids are acting completely out of control and none of the “calm” measures I have used are working.  Perhaps on top of that I am tired or my depression is rearing its ugly head.  Maybe I am feeling sick, something unforeseen has occurred, or some other event pushes me over the edge.  In these cases, I often feel like throwing in the towel.  “God”, I plead, “showing your love right now seems impossible.  Take this burden from me.”  I do not think this is what will lead to greater things.  I do not think this is the obedience God expects from us.

My “net” or “plow” that holds me to a mundane life, is my habit of making excuses.  God, if only my husband was able to see how tired I am and help out more.  God, if only my children were able to see how crazy they are acting right now.  Please, make them listen.  God,if only I wasn’t sick I would be able to handle all the issues coming my way today.  God, if only______.  My list of excuses are endless and often my demands are not based in reality.  My husband, children, my body, or anything else are not the problem.  I have to stop focusing on the “if only” of the situation and allow God to work through me.  God’s love can only be shown when I relinquish control.

Am I saying I will become the perfect example of a calm mother when I am obedient to God’s call?  Probably not.  However, I will find that I have more patience.  I will begin to see the trials from a different perspective.  I will learn to let the inconsequential things go.  How do I know?  I have already seen God’s progress in me when I am obedient.  I only expect to see more of God’s peace and love in my life as I cast off the excuses that hold me back.

For Jesus’ disciples, burning the plows meant leaving their fishing nets and boats {Matthew 4:18-22}. What is it for you?  The disciples and Elisha did not say, but what about ______.  Why do we insist that we will follow, if only God will take care of this ONE thing.  Funny how it is never just one thing.  My excuses hold me back, even the valid ones.  God is calling me to be prepared for these trials by living in Him.

I leave you with words from the Bible which speak to me as I make excuses.  God expects me to serve as if I have nothing, for my life is nothing without Him.

Luke 14: 15-23 (The Parable of the Great Banquet)

15 When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

Which type are you? I pray that we are the guest who humbly and willing comes to the banquet.