Faith

Burn the Ships

In 1519, Hernan Cortes arrived in a “new world” with more than 600 men. Cortes is remembered for conquering the Aztecs. He has also made his way into pop culture by inspiring a popular phrase, “burn the ships.”

The popular story recounts Cortes ordering his men to burn their ships, saving only one to send back to Spain. Without the possibility of retreat, the men were forced to move forward and conquer. Historians believe that this picture of burning all the ships, in all its drama, is an exaggeration. Cortes did destroy his ships, but by sinking them rather than burning them. However, the image of burnings ships has become an emblem for completely committing to something, for going all in, for blocking any avenue for retreat.

In 2018, the Christian artists For King and Country released an album with the song “Burn the Ships.” The artists revealed the personal nature of the song in several interviews. One of the artists was helping his wife battle an addiction to a prescribed medication. As they fought the battle, she reached a point where she decided she needed to flush all the medicine and completely rid herself of it. That act of total commitment to recovery, of committing to doing something hard and undesirable because it is what is best, brought that picture of burning the ships to his mind.

How did we get here?
All castaway on a lonely shore
I can see in your eyes, dear
It’s hard to take for a moment more
We’ve got to
Burn the ships, cut the ties
Send a flare into the night
Say a prayer, turn the tide
Dry your tears and wave goodbye
Step into a new day
We can rise up from the dust and walk away
We can dance upon our heartache, yeah
So light a match, leave the past, burn the ships
And don’t you look back
Don’t let it arrest you
This fear is fear of fallin’ again
And if you need a refuge
I will be right here until the end
Oh, it’s time to
Burn the ships, cut the ties
Send a flare into the night
Say a prayer, turn the tide
Dry your tears and wave goodbye
Step into a new day
We can rise up from the dust and walk away
We can dance upon our heartache, yeah…
– “Burn the Ships” by For King and Country

This song has been on my mind, along with the image of burning the ships. I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that I’ve heard three sermons with the same message over the past week, either – Go ALL IN.

Three different speakers, three different backgrounds, three different passages. The same root message — Let go of your own comforts, expectations, and desires. Be all in for Christ, whatever that looks like. Complete surrender. Complete sacrifice.

I have a picture in my head of how I want life to look. My career. My house. My family. My, my, my…

I like to have a plan before things change. I like to have a say, and if I don’t like it, I want an out. I want to keep my ship, just in case I decide it’s too hard and I want to retreat.

That isn’t being all in. That’s not complete surrender.

I’m working on letting go completely. It is not easy. Even as I write, I am fighting the urge to plan for the changes coming to my life. I feel overwhelmed and out of control. Even good change causes me some anxiety. I just don’t process change well. However, that desire to control the situation, to navigate and plan, reveals my lack of trust that God has a perfect plan. It’s time to let go. Burn the ships. Cut the ties. Stop looking back.

My eyes must be focused on what God has placed in front of me.

Taking the lessons of the past into the future with me, I’m ready to step into a new path, trusting God to lead and navigate my steps.

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