Early in my career, a wise mentor warned me to never burn my bridges. He had an example of how a colleague who had a run-in with a manager, left the company, only to discover in a few months that the manager had also taken a new job, and was now his boss! Ouch! The colleague had hoped for a new start, but instead found himself bringing old relationship problems with him. Never burn your bridges was standard industry mantra, so that you could always go back to someone for help or favors.

This year my Bible study is reading 1 and 2 Kings. The story of Elijah calling Elisha to be a prophet intrigued me. Certainly, Elijah was directed by God to find Elisha plowing in his field. Elisha’s heart was touched by the Holy Spirit, and he was immediately ready to leave and follow Elijah. But before he left, he wished to say good-bye to his parents. He then prepared a feast by burning the yoke of his oxen for fuel to boil the meat. He shared the meat with the people who were plowing alongside him. What commitment! Elisha left his friends and family and destroyed his worldly possessions by burning them, to answer Elijah’s and God’s call. He would become a servant to Elijah. The idea that Elisha “burned his bridges” captured my attention. There was no turning back for Elisha.

This posed the questions, what do I have to burn from my past as I move forward to follow Christ? Am I willing to “burn my bridges” so there is no possibility of turning back? And am I willing to follow Christ if it means I may be doing a menial job? Do I think of some tasks as beneath me? And finally, are my possessions so important to me that I am not willing to give them up when I am prompted by the Holy Spirit to proceed in a new direction?

God has prepared good works for each of us to do. Our salvation leads us to a new life of good works. It means doing something useful and valuable for Him. We contribute nothing to our salvation but receiving God’s gift of grace means living with and for God in a new way. Just as Elisha was joyful in starting his work as a servant to Elijah, we should be joyful in whatever work God has called us to do. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:8-10: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing: it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

So like Elisha, we should be more than willing to burn the bridges to our past. We must remember that we were once alienated from Christ. No number of physical possessions should tempt us back into that life. We are now free! Free to live for God, free to know that we are saved by God, and free to do whatever work He has for us. Do a menial job? There are none! Whatever God has appointed us to do, we do to his glory! “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (I Cor. 10:31). Man’s opinion of the job is inconsequential. And from Colossians 3:23-24: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” And finally, my possessions have value only in using them to complete the tasks given me. From Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:19-21).

Lord, thank you for your saving grace. Thank you for giving each of us unique work to do. Help us to burn the bridges to our past life and commit our work to your glory. Remind us through the Holy Spirit to store our treasures in heaven by making life’s choices in devotion to you.

Photo by Timon Wanner on Unsplash

Sharon Rockwell

Sharon retired from her career first as a chemist and then as a regulatory affairs consultant to the medical device industry. She has served on the women’s ministry team at Grace Presbyterian Church in her hometown of Yorba Linda, California, and has worked as the west coast regional advisor for the PCA. She and her husband have 4 adult children, and 6 young grandchildren (current score girls 4, boys 2). In her spare time Sharon enjoys cooking, traveling, bird watching and raising orchids.