Burn the ships. The story of the explorer Cortez says that when he landed in Mexico, to prevent his men from turning tail and heading back home, he set the ships on fire. Now, admittedly there is some dissension among historians about the Spanish word used to describe his act; the difference of one letter changes the meaning from burning the ships to deliberately sinking them. Either way, he decisively cut off their retreat. Destroyed the way back.
That’s kind of a scary thought, committing to something that totally. Our society doesn’t really do that. Everyone knows that over half of all marriages end in divorce. People write contracts about how to split the money when they get divorced before they even get married. What kind of commitment is that? I had an aunt-in-law (is that a real thing?) who retired from the first job she ever held. Same job her whole life. Nobody does that anymore – in fact the National Bureau of Labor Statistics says that between the ages of 18-44 the average American holds 11 jobs. Parenting doesn’t have to be a lifelong commitment; you can drop off a child, no questions asked, at a hospital or police station. For that matter, a life sentence might only mean fifteen years depending on the parole board. We don’t even commit to locking up the bad guys.
This morning my pastor preached a truly great message on this subject of commitment. He entreated and exhorted us to make a total commitment to Christ, not to just have a casual relationship, and then to detach from anything and everything that could come between us and that commitment. In other words, burn the ships. Leave no retreat to the old way of life. (go to http://www.westsideomaha.org to see it – it’s called “Burn the Ships”, it’s great, and it should be up by tomorrow)
I like to think I have commitments in my life. I am committed to my husband, no matter what, till death or Jesus comes back. I am committed to my children, when they give me joy and when they leave me crying. (Part of my job is writing up wills, and I am heartbroken every time someone comes in and wants to disinherit their child. I can’t imagine what could be bad enough that the last thing they want to communicate to their son or daughter is “Even though I’m dead, I’m still this angry and disapproving of you”) I believe I am committed to my friends, although I admit that I have had friendships in my past that didn’t work out. But, to be honest, I think that might be about it. I am going through a list of other things in my mind: job, church, writing my book, this blog, teaching… and I can’t say I’m 100% committed to any of them. Not the kind of commitment that says “I will be there, doing this, no matter what, for the long haul.” Oh! My grandkids. I would kill for them. Well, you know what I mean.
But one commitment that is worth making and keeping, is that commitment to Jesus. In fact it is more than just “worth it”, it’s totally life-changing, and completely needed. Without him, we are just lost, blind, helpless and wretched. And nearly as wretched is the miserable fence-sitting person who tries to be a “little bit Christian” – believing enough to get to heaven but not committed enough to let God’s power work in his life. That is one unhappy place to live, and I know, because I’ve lived there. No joy from walking close to Jesus, but enough of the Holy Spirit pricking my conscience that there wasn’t much fun from the things I was doing that were of my flesh. The best decision I ever made was to completely give my life to God. No turning back now.
Jesus said, “No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.” Luke 9:62 MSG