“And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)
It’s called backbreaking work because that is what it does to a man, not the first time, not the one hundredth, but if you have ever spoken to or read of those who hooked that single plow with two wooden handles up to a pair of mules or strong oxen, they will tell you what that word ‘backbreaking’ means.
It takes people of strength and inner fortitude to serve the Living God, people who are not afraid of hard work and long hours combined with physical and emotional frustration and pain. To forge ahead when the world hates you, when those you speak to will not listen when you mention the name of the Most High God.
People die every day on this planet for Him.
The hard soil of a man’s heart must be broken up before the Lord can plant the seeds of righteousness in it, and that man must be willing to work day and night with little rest if he desires to see the Lord glorified. God-fearing preacher’s houses are burned, their congregations, men and women who love the Lord Jesus Christ are persecuted, street preachers are beaten and abused, followers of the Lord expect persecutions.
“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2nd Tim. 1:12)
The people of the Lord are hard, strong-willed people with hearts of flesh, they love those that hate them because they know the reality of hell, they stand on the wall and warn all who will listen as those below cast insults at them. They stand strong in the Lord; they have put their hands to the plow and they will not turn back.
“Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?” (Psalm 94:16)
We will, and do.
The man of God knows little rest, but in those rare moments that it comes upon him, thanksgiving to the Living God is his response to them. The work will never be finished for him until he stops breathing, until he is called home, for there is an abundance of lost souls out there, there is evil to stand against, there are intercessory prayers to be offered, there is work to be done. He is content where he is at, but constantly prays for more wisdom, more Spiritual discernment, for an enlarged heart for the lost and the words to speak to the poor and needy of the Lord.
His hands are fixed to that plow and only death will release his grip on it.
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28)
Sometimes the Lord puts His hands on ours and helps, sometimes He leads the oxen, but He expects that man to work for His glory. There is refreshing rain, there are pools of clear water to drink, and when he struggles, the strength of the Lord urges him onward. Always looking forward, always praying for strength, always in prayer for guidance.
He will reach the end of the row one day at the end of the field, and the Almighty will meet him there. Then he can look back and see the Lord’s harvest from his work, souls saved, hearts mended and encouraged, tears of sorrow turned to joy. A narrow path to the straight gate.
Then he can rest.
The he can let another take the handles of that plow, then he can hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matt. 23:25) And enter he will, with great joy.
A working man is known by the callouses on his hands, by his intent, methodical gait, by his bent back and sore body. But he is also known as one who has a heart for the Lord, one who has served well, one who has obeyed in love Him who set him to that work.
Do not let go of that plow my friends, do not look back.