Burn the Ships
Posted by Rev. Jeff Dixon, Senior Equipping Minister at Covenant Community Church on Jan 1, 2002, 17:42
A man was doing some shopping at a commissary on a military base. His goal was to run in and back out quickly because he didnít need much. He grabbed what he needed; a loaf of bread and some coffee. With these items in hand he went to the check-out line. As he stood there he looked around and noticed a woman in line behind him. She had a cart piled full of groceries, clothing, and a VCR. Soon it was his turn to pay and the clerk behind the register invited him to pull a piece of paper from a fishbowl.
"If you pull out the correct slip of paper then your purchase is free," she informed him
"How many correct slips are there?"
So he reached in to try. The bowl was so full and his chances were slim, but he figured why not try anyway. He did and to his amazement he pulled out the correct slip. His joy was short lived when it dawned on him that he was only buying coffee and bread. Without missing a beat he turned to the woman standing behind him with the full cart (remember the one with the mountain of stuff) and said to her...
"Honey, what do you know, we won! We donít have to pay a penny for our stuff!"
The woman stared at him, saw him wink and decided to play along. She stepped up beside him, put her arm in his and just grinned. For a moment they stood arm in arm, side by side, wed by good fortune. As they checked out, this temporary union was ended with a great laugh a quick hug and they both left with an incredible but true story.
The reason I share that with you is that each of us, like the woman in the line, has been given a great gift. The father has loved us and given so much and we are invited to spend eternity with him. It sure was unexpected, really surprising when you think about it, but what a great story we have to tell everyone we meet!
Once you have met him, you begin what I believe is an incredible adventure, an adventure that once begun means never turning back around to where you were before, but instead an adventure that allows you to grow and become what he has called you to be.
According to history in the spring of 1519, Hernando Cortez landed with his company on the Eastern Mexican shoreline. They began to explore and fight for this new world. With six thousand men they set foot in Mexico only to discover a very rough terrain and hostile Indians. Against this tough backdrop some of his men decided it would be easier if they could just go back home and began to talk about leaving. Cortez with a revolt on his hand, did an unexpected thing, he had all of their ships burned. Thatís right, he had them set on fire. Now with no way to escape, their leader looked at his men an informed them, "You will try or die!"
For them there was no going back. Steven Curtis Chapman took this story and put a spiritual spin on it. He wrote "Burn the ships, weíre here to stay, there is no way we can go back now since weíve come this far by faith. Burn the ships, weíve passed the point of no return, our lives are here so let the ships burn."
I think in Scripture we see some strong teaching that we need to keep moving forward in our journey of faith. If you would keep reading I would like to point out a couple of things.
First, I think we see the advice to Burn the ships and plow on! In Luke 9:62 we read, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." A principle of plowing is that the farmer must keep looking forward if he is to plow a straight line. It is simple, you must keep your sights set toward the goal in front of you.
Sometimes I am afraid that we donít always give our spiritual growth a lot of emphasis. Yet the call of Christ is a call to grow. We must set our sights forward and on Him so that we can grow a deeper relationship with Him. If we keep our sights on Him, this is easier. When we become distracted by other things it can become more of a struggle. Remember that, but not only should we plow on by looking straight ahead we also need to Burn the ships and press on!
In the book of Philippians, chapter three, verses 12-14 we read, "Not that I have already obtained this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me...Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
If you were to check the meaning of the Greek phrase "take hold of" you would find that it means to overtake, as in the conquering of a land. In other words, no looking back, no resting on past accomplishment, straining forward, we keep pressing on.
Here is another way to think of it, "be like a postage stamp, stick to something until you get there." On a January morning on the Southern shore of lake Superior in Wisconsin, the annual childrenís dog sled derby was held. This year there were a handful of contestants. In order to participate you had to be under 13 years of age. These children would race for one mile piloting their dog sleds. There were no rules as to the number of dogs that would be allowed on the sled, some had two, some three, some even four. The youngest participant was a 5 year old boy, riding a homemade sled with one dog pulling it, and of course the dog was the family pet.
As the race began the little fellow and his dog were completely outdistanced, but at the Ĺ mile point of the race the first two dogs got a little close and got tangled up. They went down and all of the other racers got tangled up in the same mess. In the end there was a heap of dogs, boys, and sleds. The only one in the field who avoided the mishap was the little 5 year old. The boy and his dog steered slowly around the jumble of participants and won the race, and was the only one who finished. The lesson here is simple, keep on going. You must set your eyes forward and then press on to become all He has called you to be.
The last thing to remember is to Burn the ships and party on! In John 10:10b we read "I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full" (or abundantly).
The reason that we must keep on going is because there is a celebration that we are in the
midst of. It is a celebration of living a life that He has called us to and we need to be excited about that. Donít settle for less than what He has planned for you, donít rob yourself of the chance to experience all that He has in store for you..just donít allow that to happen.
The couple went away on their honeymoon and arrived at their hotel in the wee hours of the morning and checked in. They opened the door to their room, saw a little room with no view, one closet door, one bathroom door, no flowers, and not even a bed, just a pull out sofa with a lumpy mattress. But because it was late and they were tired, they stayed. The next morning the man vented his anger at the hotel manager. The manager acted very surprised that the room wasnít satisfactory. He informed the man that they were staying in the finest room in the entire hotel. The manger accompanied the man back to the room and walked in and stepped to what the couple had thought was a closet door. He opened it and they discovered that it was not a closet at all, instead it was a spacious bedroom with flowers, fruit basket, a balcony with a view and more. While they had been cranky, cramped, and uncomfortable...comfort was just a door away. They had settled for where they were and never thought that there could be more. Sometimes we are that way spiritually, we settle for where we are, forgetting that the adventure never ends and there is so much more to experience and do...you think about it.
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