So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”

“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”

So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.

1 Kings 19:19-21

God called Elisha to follow him and join the ministry of the prophet Elijah. For Elisha to step forward into the thing God was calling him to do required a step backwards. In this passage, he is closing the door on a chapter of his life.

When Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes and his men arrived by boat in present day South America, his first order was to burn their ships. Drastically outnumbered by the indigenous population at 7,541 to 1, Cortes eliminated what could have been Plan B to retreat and return to their homeland.

Failure is often the result of defaulting to Plan B after Plan A starts to seem too risky or difficult. Plan A people do not have a plan B.

Elisha had a good life before he met the prophet Elijah. Elisha resided in a prosperous Israeli area (the town’s name means “Dancing Meadows” in English), and as a firstborn son, he stood to inherit significant riches from his family. There was nothing wrong with Elisha’s family or inheritance, but he decided he wanted more-- he wanted God’s plan A.

The first step is always the longest step and the hardest step --burning the ship to the past. Burning the ship eliminates the possibility of moving back into what is familiar and comfortable. Elisha did not have to burn his plowing equipment to follow Elijah, but he did so to make a bold declaration of faith.

Change is a two-sided coin: out with the old, and in with the new. Sometimes we ask God to do something new, while we keep doing the same old thing. We want God to change our circumstances while we do nothing at all.

When we cling too tight to what God did in the past, we miss what he wants to do in our life now.

We should not be seeking who God was; we should be seeking who He is (Amos 5:4-6).

Burn the ships of past failure, past success, bad habits, regrets, and guilt. Burn the ships of your “Before Christ” days. By slaughtering his oxen and burning his plowing equipment, Elisha eliminated the ties which would have enabled him to return to his old life.

Elisha asked God for a double portion of anointing. Why did he think he deserved that? Elisha gave God everything. He held nothing back.

Anointing is the difference between what you can do and what God can do-- the intersection of the natural and supernatural, when God’s favor connects with your human abilities. Elisha asked for a double portion because he had given God everything and held nothing back.

What are you holding back that is keeping you from asking God for a double portion?

Elisha ultimately performed 28 miracles while his predecessor Elijah performed 14. By choosing to humble himself, Elisha gave God room to supernaturally move through him (Philippians 3:13-14, Matthew 11:12).                                                                                                                                        

Burn the ships, give up the dancing meadows, and go all out for God’s plan for your life.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you ever settled for Plan B because Plan A seemed too risky?

  2. What do you think is God’s Plan A for you?

  3. Are there any ships you need to burn or dancing meadows you need to surrender in order to step into God’s Plan A for your life?

  4. What are practical steps you can take toward making a bold statement of faith by eliminating any plan B’s that you’ve been holding onto?