Did YOU destroy the ships?
“Burn the ships!”
Legend has it that was the order given by Spanish conquistador, Hernando Cortes, but it’s somewhat inaccurate.
Cortes had heard of the great wealth of the Aztec empire, and he set his mind on a single mission: to conquer the Aztecs and take their vast treasure.
In 1519, Cortes left his 11 ships anchored off the Yucatan and came ashore with 500 soldiers and 100 sailors, ready to begin the task of toppling the Aztec empire while appropriating its wealth.
There was just one problem — some of his men were having second thoughts about their commitment to the mission.
Cortes had selected his men carefully, yet he had to do something to significantly buoy their motivation for the mission.
“Destroy the ships!” he ordered.
Initially, that order met was with resistance from Cortes’ men. But Cortes challenged them, “If we are going home, we are going home in their ships.”
The ships were scuttled (instead of burned), which meant Cortes’ soldiers and sailors were making a total commitment toward successfully completing their singular mission. It was reported that morale and individual commitment to the mission shifted radically after the sinking of the ships. With no way to sail home, it was now all or nothing. Two years later, they would successfully complete their mission.
Great missions are usually rife with risks, dangers, and uncertainties. It’s not uncommon to want to keep one foot safely on home base instead of losing our means to return to where we feel safe. But missions aren’t accomplished that way, including the mission Jesus Christ has given to each Christian to join Him in building the kingdom of God.
“57 As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ 58 But Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.’ 59 He said to another person, ‘Come, follow me.’ The man agreed, but he said, ‘Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.’ 60 But Jesus told him, ‘Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.’ 61 Another said, ‘Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.’ 62 But Jesus told him, ‘Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God,” Luke 9:57-62.
Following Christ comes with all the promises and assurances of a faithful and perfect God, yet the journey will have its troubles. What’s a motivation to move forward? It’s an all-or-nothing proposition. You can’t follow Christ for just select parts of the journey, you’re either with Him or you aren’t.
“Then he said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me’,” Luke 9:23.
You either “destroy the ships” and commit to the mission, or turn back to the world and its false safety and comforts.
Which choice have you made?