Recently I was flipping through the radio and stopped on the song “Burn the Ships” by for King & Country. Out of curiosity, I wanted to know the origin of the title. In 1519, Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes landed on Mexican shores with a clear mission of conquest. His men might not have been as convinced. Victory would be impossible without full, unwavering commitment. So Cortes gave the orders to “Burn the ships!”. There was no turning back. No safety net. This was the only way.

Jesus gives us a similar command in Luke 9:23-24: “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”

To take up our cross is to give our very lives. Daily. Unlike with Cortes, this isn’t a one-time event. What a huge ask. Yet, those of us who experience this know it is the only way. And it is the best way. If Jesus is who he says he is, he is the creator of all wisdom. Why wouldn’t we trust His way? We can live a true life of freedom knowing we’ve “burned the ships.”

So how do we take up this cross? Being the dorky teacher that I am, I feebly try to apply it to three “T’s” in my life: time, talents, and treasure.

To surrender our time is to give God control of our schedule. For some of us, it is volunteering more or adding things to love our neighbor or our God more concretely. For me, though, it is more about taking things off my schedule that reduce the margin I have to spontaneously love my neighbor or God more. A lot of our busyness can mask our need for deep faith. For more on this, check out January’s sermon series on “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry.”

To surrender our talents is to use our passions and gifts to glorify God. We all have unique abilities that fit in God’s grand purpose. Being in a loving community (like Commonway) can help us to discover these gifts. We can utilize some of these talents on Sunday morning, but the call is beyond that. Like Cortes, to venture out into unfamiliar territory.

To surrender our treasure is the most tangible example I can think of in following Christ’s call. I shamefully default to a scarcity mindset. Thinking that if I give to ‘A’ I will have less, so I can’t spend on ‘B’. It is so logical and mathematical. Yet anyone who has given generously knows this isn’t necessarily true. Our God created logic and math but is still above it. He often sticks within these boundaries, but he’s not bound to them. God faithfully and abundantly blesses and provides. Every time. If you don’t believe me, try it sometime for yourself. Pray for where you should give beyond what logic tells and then really pay attention to what happens next.

My daughter, Hope, loves when I throw her into the air and catch her. I can now throw her as high or risky as possible because she’s built up a total trust through the years that she won’t be dropped. My son Drew, however, does not like it. He sees the joy his sister experiences and sometimes wants to be a part. But the minute I let go of him, he panics and grabs on to whatever he can. These grabs change his path (and hurt!). I then have to improvise the catch, which is never as smooth, and the experience is never as joy-filled. I know that if he could only learn to let go and trust me, he would love it. My prayer for us is the same.

So I encourage you to join me today in a prayer to let go and “Burn the ships!”. God is faithful. His way is the best way. It is hard to do this daily, but it is so worth it.

Father, we want to trust you today.  Your way is the best way.

So we give you this day.  We want to be instruments of your divine purpose.

We want to take up our cross today and follow you.  To be alive in Christ.

Let us take this step of letting go and experience the freedom you offer.

With this step, give us the courage to burn the ships that are keeping us from fully committing to you.

We give you our time, our talents, our treasure, all of us.

Guide us today so we can love you and others fully.

Yes Jesus. Amen.  

Nate Clark has been active at Commonway for the past 15 years. He enjoys serving as elder chair and lobby host. Nate tries to keep up with his amazing wife Erica and his four active elementary aged children.  He also teaches 6th grade and coaches sports in their Yorktown community.

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