1Kings 19: 16b, 19-21; Luke 9: 51-62
There is a quote that goes something like this…”If you give God half your heart, you’ll experience half God’s power. If you give God your entire heart, God will change your life.” In a very brief way, it is the message that Jesus is sending out to the disciples and us today. In an age when we have a tendency to over-commit in many different directions, the one we don’t often have time for or the one that gets pushed aside, is our faith and prayer life and a time for silence. Although the language of Jesus sounds rather harsh, it is making a point about not fully committing ourselves to this faith process and prayer.
Both Elijah and Elisha are great examples of giving it all, but also the gradualness of the process in our lives. If we look at the larger context of the reading, Elijah is running from where God is leading him; he doesn’t want to hear it nor do it for that matter, and so he goes in search of his purpose. He finds himself in a cave before he can begin to hear the voice of God in the silence which leads him to placing the mantle on Elisha as the prophetic voice being raised up. Elisha goes to the extremes to show his commitment. He slaughters the oxen and burns the plowing equipment to mark the end of the old way of life and the beginning of where it is God now calls.
But this commitment of giving God our entire hearts is never an easy one, just like Elijah. It is often the places we don’t want to go where God is leading us in order to give it all. For the disciples, and all Jews for that matter, the place they didn’t want to go was the Samaritan villages. There was a constant battle between the Jews and Samaritans about who held the truth, which led to much fighting and bloodshed, so the Jewish people on their way to Jerusalem would find round-about ways to get there and avoid the villages. However, like Jesus does for them, it’s where he leads them. It sometimes comes down to identifying those Samaritan villages within ourselves and the places we try to avoid within ourselves that keeps us from giving God our entire hearts. God doesn’t want half a heart or 3/4 of a heart, God wants the whole thing and if we can give it, God can change our lives as well.
The summer months is often the best time for us to commit more fully to prayer, faith, and silence in our lives. Many of our other commitments end for a few weeks and so there is more time readily available. The challenge for us this week is to be more aware of those times, like the people in the gospel, that we are making excuses from following. I’ll get to it as soon as I finish…; that’s probably the invitation God is sending and the time we are most receptive to hearing the voice of God in the silence. Half of heart isn’t enough; 3/4 just doesn’t cut it. If we want our lives to change, then we must give God our entire hearts. When we do, we’ll be changed forever.