In 1519, Captain Hernán Cortés landed in Veracruz to begin his great conquest. Upon arriving, he gave the order to his men to burn the ships. As I imagine it, someone then laughed and Cortés promptly thrust his sword into the man’s chest. After which, the rest proceeded to get hammered on rum by the glow of the blaze--almost like a bloodier version of The Pirates of the Caribbean, with Cortés played by Johnny Depp.
Here’s the lesson: Retreat is easy when you have the option. Let that ruminate in your brain for a moment. I had to. We all cling to something that acts as our escape hatch or our exit strategy (with negative connotation here). It’s our safety net, our “just in case…”
What we fail to do is honestly complete that sentence. We lie to ourselves. If we were honest, we would see that what we’re actually saying is, “This is my safety net, just in case I get scared.” We postpone action until we no longer feel fear. Either that, or our actions are shallow attempts never designed to succeed. In reality, we must learn to act decisively in spite of our fear.
“That doesn’t make sense.” We love that phrase. We love to hide behind it. We tell ourselves that certain things don’t make sense. It would have “made sense” for Cortés to keep a ship or two, if not his entire fleet. But Cortés was on a mission and he knew that the only way to keep himself or his men from quitting on the mission was to take that option off the table. What Cortés did was force himself, and his men, to either succeed or die trying. Retreat was not an option. I believe that to truly achieve the level of success we each desire, there are times when we need to “burn the ships.”
The question we have to ask ourselves is this: What are my ships? What am I afraid to let go? I can’t answer that question for you, but you can. “What ships do I need to burn in my life?” As you consider your answer, move quickly to the next question. What is it that makes it hard to set them ablaze? Is it a false sense of obligation to the task? Is it fear of the unknown? Is it fear of being perceived as a failure? What is it?
…Jesus burned the ship for me.