Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.’”
Luke 9: 23-24 (NIV)
I heard a dear friend share a story yesterday that may be part legend and part truth—but no matter which carries the day, it is something worth embracing as we begin the day together.
It seems that when Hernando Cortez (de Monroy y Pizarro) landed in Mexico in 1519 it was with the view toward conquering and claiming the land for Spain. Hernando Cortez was a Spanish Conquistador who led that expedition which in fact ultimately caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of Spain in the early sixteenth century. Cortés was part of the generation of Spanish colonizers that began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.
However, when he and his band of roughly five-hundred men landed, they realized that they were outnumbered by the Aztec Indians by a margin of over three hundred to one. And with that sobering knowledge they stood there together—after having just taken their first step onto the shores of Mexico. They came there in eleven ships which were still anchored in the sea a short way off from the shoreline.
As Cortez gathered the men together, you can only imagine what they were expecting their leader to say to them as to a suggested course of action: “Guys I never realized how many we would have to overcome—we need to load back up into the ships and get out as quickly as possible”, or perhaps they expected to hear him say, “Go and find suitable places to hide while we wait for reinforcements to arrive.”
Instead, Hernando Cortez looked them straight in the eye and said—“Burn the boats.”
Surely they misunderstood what he had just said. Surely he didn’t say to “burn the boats” and with it their only means of escape from danger and what seemed like certain annihilation.
“Burn the boats,” he said once again, “because if we are ever going home to Spain, we’ll go home in their boats.”
That phrase “burn the boats” is also attributed to the ancient Greek commanders who allegedly shouted “burn the boats” when battle ensued to eliminate any possible means of retreat. The battle is joined—stand fast and move ahead. Don’t look for a way out of what we are facing.
In the scripture set out above, Jesus is saying “Burn the boats.” Stop looking for a way out of what I am continually calling you to do. Follow Me. Stop looking for a bridge to safety, an escape route, or an easy way out. Follow Me. Stop looking for a way to abdicate your duty to which I have called you. Follow Me. Deny yourself. Take up your cross daily. Follow Me.
Although we may not like to remember the moments, we can all identify with what Cortez was saying. We can all identify with those men standing on the shores of Mexico. In so many moments of so many of our days, we are confronted with obstacles seemingly too big to overcome, or too tough to handle and face. It may be something unexpected occurring at the office. Maybe a relationship has soured and we just want out. Maybe circumstances have caused what has always been a dream to begin to seem like a nightmare. So we look for excuses which would allow us to turn away, to do something else, to escape, and perhaps in the process to simply save face.
But what is it that Christ would have us to do? Is He still calling us to stand and press on? Does He still seem to be in the fray and perhaps we just need to hear His voice of encouragement reminding us that He is still there? With Christ on our side, with Christ standing on whatever shore we’ve just landed—we can “burn the boats” and head forth in full commitment, knowing that whatever occurs with Him in charge will ultimately be for our eternal good and His glory.
What is it you are facing that seems insurmountable? Is it something which would glorify Him if you pressed on?
Follow Him, burn the boats, and watch what He will do!
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2012. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.