When the Old Life Looks Better: Burn the Ships

In 1519, Hernan Cortez left Cuba and landed on the eastern shores of what is now known as Mexico. After a rough voyage to their landing, the sailors became discouraged as they saw the conditions they would have to encounter. Not only hunger and thirst, but jungles, wild animals and the ‘bloodthirsty’ Aztecs. Knowing the murmuring that was spreading throughout the ranks and perceiving an attempt to flee back to Spain, Cortez had the ships burned. There was no returning. They now had no other option. They would conquer or they would die trying.

Genesis 23:1–4 (ESV): Sarah lived 127 years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. And Sarah died at Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. And Abraham rose up from before his dead and said to the Hittites, “I am a sojourner and foreigner among you; give me property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.”

Abraham, filled with grief did not pack up and return home, but rather made the final commitment to the promises of God and bought a piece of land to bury his wife.

Burial was done in the native land. When Abraham bought this land he was renouncing his homeland in Mesopotamia and declaring that this Promised Land was where he and his ancestors intended to live and die according to the promises of God.

Not only was Sarah buried in this cave, but also Abraham (25:9), Isaac and Rebekah (49:29-31), and Jacob and Leah (50:13).

In our lives, as we struggle on in this Pilgrim’s journey, how many times have you been tempted to turn back? How about being tempted to forget all about living a holy life and begin to think seriously about your desire to chuck it all and dive headlong into sin? Maybe it’s a thought to throw away your marriage vows in defeat because divorce looms as such an easy escape?

Whatever it is that looks so tempting out there, as you look longingly back at your old life and you wish you could go back, don’t. Burn those ships. There is no going back. God has a plan that entails victory.

His plan brings great joy. Hard work, yes. Struggle? Yes. Trials? Yes. Dangers? Yes. But what have you ever received that was of real value with little effort? The treasures of heaven far surpass the greatest gold deposits in the world.