Why Looking Back from the Plow is Not a Smart Thing to Do

Putting Your Hand to the Plow

As a kid, I never considered what it meant to put my hand to the plow. My childhood home was surrounded by fields on three sides, and I saw a lot of hay-making and harvesting over the years. Nowadays, an Amish man rents the pastures. He can be seen with his team of work horses harvesting corn, grain, or hay. I spent my summers with the fragrance of freshly mown hay in the field. Sometimes we helped grab hay bales and tossed them to my uncle who stacked them on the wagon.

Sometimes we built hay houses in that field and played there for days until my uncle came with his wagon to take the hay to the barn.


My mother’s garden held row upon row of produce. We spent unwilling hours there, weeding the plants and throwing those weeds over the fence to our cow. I knew enough to know I didn’t want those weeds to take root again.

More than Fun and Games

It was mostly fun and games. The how-to of farming or gardening was lost on me, for I only considered the fun we had. I didn’t understand the importance of focus until my step-father told me since he’d married my mother, her garden rows were much straighter than they’d been before.

“When I first came here to visit,” he said, “I noticed how uneven the rows were. I knew that if I married your mother, those rows would be straight from then on!”

He was so proud of  his garden (and his wood shop, where he made beautiful wooden frames).

“You have to find a spot at the end of the row and keep your eye on that spot,” he explained. “If you don’t – if you look back – you will lose your focus, and the row will be crooked.”


He was right.

What Jesus said about plowing

Jesus talked about that once. It seems He was asking people to follow Him. Some of them had excuses: “Let me wait until my father dies; I want to take care of him first.”; “I want to go say goodbye to my family first.”

Jesus’ reply was that if someone puts his hand to the plow and then looks back, he isn’t fit to serve in the Kingdom.

He was saying that the task we are called to do won’t get done right if we look back. The rows won’t be straight if we look back. Granted, sometimes a person needs to watch behind the machinery. If he’s rounding a curve with a tractor, he has to make sure the plow comes around. Yet normally, our focus should be forward.

Fixing our eyes on a point and heading toward that point will guarantee that the row will be straight. Easier said than done, I know.

There’s a problem. We have this thing called distractions. We lose sight of the end goal, thereby losing our focus.


What distractions are keeping you from what God has called you to do or to be?

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