Burning Your Boats
Challenges in living together as a community
– by Tom Caballes
“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 ESV
Legend says that in 1519, an explorer, Hernan Cortes, led eleven ships with around six hundred men and was headed for Mexico to take the world’s richest treasures known during that time. But there was one problem – a strong army had been guarding the treasure, and no one had ever defeated them, though many others tried.
As they landed, Cortes commanded one thing – “Burn the boats!” His men obeyed. His men had only two choices: win the battle – or die.
Because his men did not have any chance to retreat or escape, they fought the bravest combat of their lives – and they won. They were victors, and they had all the riches beyond what they could use in a lifetime.
Our walk with God is very similar – sometimes we have second options or plans in life that are not in line with God’s will. Do we compromise our faith in God? What are the boats in your life that you need to burn so that you can be fully dead set on following God?
So How Do You Burn Your Boats in This Life?
You need to cut off your ties with your old sinful patterns. There should be no looking back. Live as a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Live with ‘no strings attached’ to your old way of thinking, relating, and behaving. So, if something brings you temptation, do something to get rid of it.
Surrender your ambitions and plans to God. They should all be secondary to following and obeying God. Your primary goal is to do God’s will and please him. Is God first in your life or just secondary?
Be willing to experience suffering and pain for the sake of following God. It may come through serving God, sharing the Gospel with others, standing up for what is right or through other ways and means.
You need to radically live your life for God. Not with complacency, timidity or half-heartedness. You need to be on fire for God! Be single-hearted for God and his kingdom. Like the man in Jesus’ parable, sell all you have in exchange for the greatest pearl of no equal.
No giving up and no turning back on your walk with God. No daydreaming about the “what ifs” of life.
Live by faith, not by sight. See things by using your spiritual eyes, not just physical. [2 Corinthians 5:7]
Fix your eyes on the reward. The truth is, if you give your all to God, you will be well-rewarded. What what can compare with living eternally with God? Think about it – often!
Other Scripture passages
- Luke 9:62 ESV Jesus said to him, No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.
- Romans 8:18 ESV For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
- Philippians 3:8 ESV … I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.
- Other references: 2 Chronicles 15:7; Jeremiah 29:11; 1 Corinthians 9:24 and Galatians 6:9-10.
For personal reflection or group sharing
- When life gets tough, do you have an ‘exit strategy’ or a fail-safe plan so you can save your own skin, name, comfort, or convenience?
- Would you prefer to reach heaven with just barely doing so, or with ‘flying colors?’
- Are you giving your all to God or are you holding anything back? What are the ‘boats’ that you need to burn?
Tom Caballes is the National Senior Administrator and a National Coordinator of the Lamb of God, a community of the Sword of the Spirit with 7 branches located throughout New Zealand. Tom also leads Kairos New Zealand, an outreach program for high school, university, and post-university aged people. Illustration by Christian Mølsted (1862-1930) [Public Domain]. From Living Bulwark, February/March 2017, used with permission.