Burn the Ships!


It was a strange new world. Sure they had heard stories about riches and treasures, but when they stepped ashore, they didn’t know what to expect. After a rendezvous in Cuba, Hernan Cortez led his 400 men to the coast of present-day Mexico. The men stepped onto Mexico’s shore in February of 1519. As had been the case in Cuba, a group of men moved to take charge of the now emptied eleven ships, planning to do the normal thing, to guard the ships while Cortez led the rest in exploration of the interior.

This was the safe, sensible thing to do. In so doing, there would be a way to escape should Cortez run into a band of head hunting natives. Who wouldn’t want a way out? Cortez didn’t. he did something that had never been done before. He ordered his men to burn the ships, thus cutting off any possible avenue for a quick return home. His message was clear: “No turning back. We’re all in. We are pushing forward, no matter what.”

That is the message of faith. “I’m all in. I’m following Jesus, no matter the cost.” The Christian life isn’t complicated. It’s just a matter of burning a few ships. Six thousand years ago, God had an interesting conversation with a fellow named Moses. “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on'” (Exodus 14:15). You have a past. So do I. We all do. The issue isn’t where you’ve been, but where you are going. You have a choice. You can move forward with a back-up plan, a safety net. Or you can do it God’s way – no turning back, moving on, no matter what. It’s time to burn a few ships.


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