“If you want to take the island, burn the boats”, words spoken by Julius Caesar more than 2,000 years ago. “Take the island” means CONQUER. There is a high price to pay for taking the island, particularly if you burn your own exit so you can not possibly leave. It is the concept of leaving yourself NO other option – it is the essence of Queen Esther’s words, “…and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16) I am going forward at all costs in the face of danger, which means I am leaving myself at the point of no return – it means I can’t retreat.
I can only imagine that Caesar’s men thought he had lost his collective mind when he told them to burn each and every ship they had just sailed in. It was a clear visual to all watching that there would be NO going back, an all or nothing venture at hand. They were there to war with the Celts and leaving ships in the harbor was leaving a way of escape in their moments of imminent fear and weakness to retreat. I am guessing that Caesar KNEW they would be scared enough to run, so he took away their only way out. Really, he had brought them to a new level of commitment – that giving your all, or die moment.
Jesus had the same message for His followers. “But Jesus said to him, No one having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62) Looking back did NOT fare well for Lot’s wife. Her cautionary story is enough to shake us up! (pun intended) When you move forward, there will be times that you absolutely must NOT look back.
Sure, there are definitely times TO look back – to figure out what went wrong, to assess the past in order to plan the future, to fix broken places – of course. BUT there will be seasons when life will require you to burn your ships in order TO move forward. “ Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” (Proverbs 4:25)
What if though?! What would humanity look like if we gave this life journey our all, holding nothing back – scared yes, but doing it anyway. What if we didn’t retreat? What if we fought through to the death? Not a physical death generally, but a death to self – to pride, to fear, to all the things that hold us down and hold us back. What if we gave all? “The Lord our God said to us in Horeb, you have stayed long enough at this mountain.” (Deuteronomy 1:6) Or, in this harbor!
What if God is calling us at this hour in history to burn the ships in order to take out enemies in our own lives that need to be conquered! We would send a strong signal to the enemies of our soul that we would push back; that we would NOT run; that against all odds we would hold fast. You don’t think they would panic and be the ones to run themselves? NOTHING is more intimidating than a person who will NOT back down. It is the sign of a true warrior. There is also a personal power rush (of the good kind/not narcissistic) when we know that we know that we KNOW that no way/no how are we going to quit or stop or retreat. NO. Nope. Not gonna happen. No thief can steal that kind of soul commitment from you.
IN IT TO WIN IT
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24) THIS is when you realize you would die for what you live for, when the two interlock (lock in place) simultaneously and cannot be undone. THIS is the strength of a true soldier, fighting on life’s battlefield. And, winning. “In it to win it.” But it has to look like something. It can’t be just another check on a to-do list. It has to be the real deal – you MUST burn the ships. Only YOU know what those look like in your own life. I know mine.
I see a trip to the harbor in my near future, with a lighter. I am personally tired of being yanked away by laughing, jeering enemies who call out my weakness and my fear. I am going to use this against them – like a “WATCH ME” now! You think I can’t? I WILL. And, like Queen Esther let our mantra be – “If I perish, I perish.” But I will NOT run. I will NOT retreat.
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