Have you ever been to the point of no return in your life? I remember swimming across the lake at St. Malo with a couple of friends, and one of them turned out to not be a great swimmer. Not really something you want to learn when you’re about half-way across the lake! We were past the point of no return, we had to tell him to keep swimming.
There is a fascinating story right near the end of the prophet Elisha’s life. Jehoash is the king of Israel and his kingdom is being threatened by the armies of Aram; but Jehoash has one great advantage, the prophet Elisha is with him. Elisha gives the king some unusual instructions. He asks him to take a bow and shoot an arrow out his East window. “Shoot!” Elisha says, and Jehoash shoots. “This is the Lord’s arrow, an arrow of victory over Aram!” Elisha declares. Then Elisha tells the king to take the arrows and to strike them against the ground. So the king strikes the ground three times with the arrows and stops. And then we have an interesting line in Scripture, “The man of God was angry with him.” Elisha’s frustration comes out, “”You should have stuck the ground five or six times! Then you would have beaten Aram until it was entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times.’ Then Elisha died and was buried.”
It’s a story that doesn’t seem to appear to make much sense to our modern minds. But one decision led to the king receiving much less than what was promised or could have been…the king quit. Maybe he was tired, maybe he felt ridiculous, but for Elisha, the fact that the king stopped was connected to his lack of determination to achieve complete victory. He just didn’t want it badly enough. I see that in myself far too often, I just don’t want it badly enough. I am willing to settle for less. I have prayed too little, expected too little, done too little. When you come to the end of your life, will you be able to say, “I gave everything I had.” All around us are hopeful reminders of ordinary people who have found their way to living extraordinary lives. Yet most often there is a point of no return they had to go beyond. They couldn’t save any energy for “the swim back”, they had to be determined to move forward, to fail forward. At the start of 2019, WMBC, we can refuse to settle for less, we can choose to go All In. Maybe the life we long for is beyond the point of no return.