Country Living Series

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Eyes on the prize

This past Sunday in church, the gospel text was Luke 9:57-62, summarized as “The cost of following Jesus.” In the concluding line of this text, Jesus says, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Despite the fact that biblical references to agriculture always interest me, I never gave much thought to this particular verse until the pastor explained it.

This particular pastor was a visiting pastor who originally hailed from the hills of Tennessee. As such, he knew a lot of old-time farmers who grew up plowing with horses or mules. In talking with these veteran farmers, he learned that when plowing with animals, they tend to plow where you look. If your attention is drawn to the left, you unconsciously direct your mules or horses to the left. If your attention is drawn to the right, you plow to the right.


“So how,” asked the pastor of one of these farmers, “do you plow in a straight line?”

“You fix your eyes on a distant spot in front of you and don’t look to the side. As long as you stare straight ahead, you’ll plow a straight line.”

And this, the pastor explained, is what the parable means. If you allow your attention to be diverted from the cross in front of you, you won’t plow your life toward that cross. You’ll be distracted by the diversions of this world. You’ll diverge to the left or to the right, anywhere but straight ahead.

I’ve been thinking about this since Sunday because it makes such good sense. When I allow myself to wander away from the cross, I’ll say [w]itchy things, or make snarks, or gossip, or indulge in vices, otherwise behave in ways that are unbecoming to a Christian woman.


Every sin to which mankind falls prey can be attributed to taking our eyes off the prize. Some people never see the prize and don’t know the wonder that can come from attaining it. Some people think the “prize” is so distant that they don’t have to worry about it now. Or maybe they think the prize is a mirage and isn’t really there. Or maybe they think that hey, a little side trip here and there off the straight furrow is no big deal; they can always straighten up later. Some people can; but others sink into habits or vices that are hard to escape, and others make such big mistakes that it changes their life (for the bad) forever.

It’s so much simpler, in the end, to fix our eyes on the prize and plow a straight line. Don’t take your hand off the plow or we may find ourselves not fit for service in the Kingdom of God.


Just some philosophical musings on a hot and humid summer day.

18 comments:

  1. Amen.

    Eyes on and giddyup.

    Good stuff, Patrice.

    A. McSp.

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  2. Wonderful explanation and musings. Thanks for sharing. I'm keeping my eyes on the prize.

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  3. Thank you for sharing, Patrice. That was a very powerful word picture. A lesson we can ALL learn from.

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  4. It's interesting, because there's a priest that my family knows who told us once at a Bible study that he has a really hard time with agricultural references in the Bible because he's never had to live anywhere remotely non-urban. (He wanted to know why we'd move up to ID in the first place, after all, people drive tanks up here, right? :) I joke that he won't come up and visit us up here because he doesn't have his choice of several coffee places within walking distance of where we live!) For most of humanity, the agricultural references probably would have been easier than most, because it was the type of life that most people led. There's something very sad, though, about losing that connection to the understanding of the earth and seasons and God's wonders.

    -Your neighbor in Sandpoint

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing that lesson..I needed to hear that. That's what I like about your blog..you cover a variety of topics that are so applicable to our lives.

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  6. I so agree with you but alas, the masses don't. I am learning little by little how to grow, preserve & make what I can.

    I invited several of my non-believing friends (in soooooo many ways), to attend a cheese making class at one of the local 'self serving classes' around. We did cheese & had a great time, going out to dinner afterwards & had a great time.

    I enjoyed the class (although I didn't learn much else except what I already knew) but thought my friends would.

    The class is now offering a 1/2 priced class on lotion making & I sent out the same invite as before. Others that complain about Deodorant vs Antiperspirant said "That's not really MY thing" but if others will go, I will too."

    They just don't 'get it'. Any knowledge learned is what they didn't know before. I bought 2 for the class & am thinking about inviting my MIL instead of my 'friends'.

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  7. Some food for thought - good post, Patrice!

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  8. Amen Sis!...Fixin' my eyes on Jesus. Life is smoother when we fix our eyes on Him. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I read recently: "Let us hear this, and fear. If we do not drive sin out, sin will drive us out; if we be not the death of our lusts, our lusts will be the death of our souls."....God is good. He's the only God I want to serve. The only God worth serving. Have a great evening...You and your family are always in my prayers. Alicia

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  9. Thank you for posting this. I greatly enjoyed reading it and pondering it prayerfully.

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  10. Well done! First time I've heard that verse explained. Thank you.


    Steve Davis
    Anchorage, Alaska

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  11. Too many churches today change to reflect some idea of "social justice". They don't focus on doctrine.

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  12. Lived in Wisconsin for most of my growing up life..Not on a farm, but all around were farms...So, this plowing story is so true...I lived near an Amish community there and they plowed like the pictures..straight lines...Great picture of how the Lord wants us to live with our eyes always on JESUS, the Only ON who can save us..as He says: I am the way , and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. John 14:6...God's Words not mine....and His Word is TRUTH
    Thank you for sharing this TRUTH
    Love from NC

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    Replies
    1. AMEN! For years I thought I was following Jesus and that I had my "eye on the prize" but I was actually following religion and rituals. I was "born again" and fled the deception I was under. The way is narrow and few find it. And to think, I could have went directly to Jesus all those years! We are all kings and priests before him. AMEN!

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  13. Have you ever considered making a calendar from some of your front page photos?

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  14. Reading your great post made me think of this;

    11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
    12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
    13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
    14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
    15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee

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  15. I suffer from a condition called acrophobia. I don't know why I have it, but I'm facing it head on. A therapist told me to "look where I'm going", not to look over the edge. He said if you look away from the road in front of you, you will tend to steer off to that side and not straight.

    Nice correlation to your pastor's explanation.

    Indulging in "little" sins lead us down the wrong road. Thank you for the reminder to stay on the straight and narrow path.

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  16. I suffer from a condition called acrophobia. I don't know why I have it, but I'm facing it head on. A therapist told me to "look where I'm going", not to look over the edge. He said if you look away from the road in front of you, you will tend to steer off to that side and not straight.

    Nice correlation to your pastor's explanation.

    Indulging in "little" sins lead us down the wrong road. Thank you for the reminder to stay on the straight and narrow path.

    ReplyDelete