Burn The Ships!

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Jesus refers to Himself as “the first and the last” and it is in the middle where our choices are made. The beginning and the end – birth and death – remain with God. In between, man’s choices determine his levels of stress and joy. This is something I learned from Solomon some time ago but so often fail to remember; when my patience gets pushed, I can find myself getting angry.

Eccl 7:9 Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools. ESV

There are really three things that test our patience … God, ourself, and other people.  I read one time that a perfect illustration of that fact is a bow in the hand of God.

Consider that God is not aiming at what we are. His target is usually not the same one we are setting our sights on, and He is not asking our permission to change our target. He has us in His hands for a purpose that is His own and He holds us there until the very last moment. Then when He lets fly, the arrow goes straight to His goal. For us it is the in between time; the time between the bow being pulled back and the arrow being released. It’s in between birth and death where God tries our patience and it’s there that Solomon’s words hit home.

It’s when God has us in His hands and the pressure seems to be unbearable and our patience is all but gone that Solomon cautions us to not become angry because anger lodges in the heart of fools. What he is referring to is the fact that our anger is almost always covering up something that is wrong. And it is when God has us in His bow and it is fully drawn that we are presented with a choice: be patient and listen as He deals with what is wrong.

This was brought home to me at a time when God had me under tremendous pressure and my patience with the situation was waning. I needed to make a decision but it was clear God was aiming in one direction and I was in another. That’s when the Holy Spirit spoke just one word … “Cortez.” At that moment I knew the decision that was set before me.

Hernán Cortés arrived in the New World with six hundred men and, upon arriving he made history by destroying his ships. He sent a clear message to his men: There is no turning back. And two years later, he succeeded in his conquest of the Aztec empire.

That was my challenge; get to the place where what I was facing was inevitable and burn my ships; make it impossible to go back and then go forward. Go forward in line with the direction God was setting in front of me … Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. It’s leaning on our own understanding that “keeps the ships in the harbor.”

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