Burn the Ships

guest post by Stephen Cornelison. Stephen works for Food for the Hungry (fh.org), a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to serving the vulnerable & fighting poverty. He is a husband, father, musician, and a dreamer (He also has quite the sweet tooth).

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Sometimes in life you have to close the safety valve. To move forward, you have to cut off the option of turning back. As my wife has shared, we recently relocated to D.C. from our lifelong home of Phoenix. On paper, it seems like an epic idea, a pursuit of wanderlust, the millennial dream if you will, upping and moving with a bit of whimsy. While there is nothing inherently wrong with any of the ideas I just mentioned, it’s easy to sort of keep the idea in the back of your mind that, “Hey, if it doesn’t work out we can always go back.” We still own our old house in Phoenix which was for us a dream home. We told ourselves, as long as we lived in Phoenix, this is the perfect home and neighborhood for us. We had deep community too. Truly letting go of our former life and abode has not been an easy process. We still love our friends and community back in Phoenix dearly and pray for their blessing and wellbeing often.

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The only problem is that I’ve found myself not really connecting with anyone here. It’s easy to play the comparison game, “oh something here isn’t as good as the same something there.” Or to lean more heavily on old relationships for support instead of seeking and investing in new relationships. (Once again, there’s nothing wrong with staying in touch with people, but relying on them to be your primary source of friendship and community is a challenge). Slowly, I’ve found myself disenchanted or discontented with life here. I’m not pursuing it with the same vigor I would because I’ve still got options. It’s like in my mind, I haven’t fully committed. Maybe something better will come along. I think this train of thought is dangerous and contrary to the kingdom of God. Jesus was clear in His earthly teachings that the kingdom of God was here and now. Like the Israelites famously complaining about wanting to go back to Egypt because it was so much better (nostalgia is an interesting thing, eh?), we may miss out on what God has for us (aka in the Israelites case, the promised land) by holding on to old things. It took an unexpected offer to buy our house from a coworker who is moving to Phoenix to realize: I’m still holding on to where I’ve been and not fully embracing where God has me now. By severing those ties, or burning the ships to use the metaphor, it’s a strong message to myself that this is my life here and I should pursue it with all vigor, passion, and courage. 

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I should embrace what God has given it to me, instead of hesitating by stepping off the boat and wanting to sail back home. Who knows, maybe God will bring us back to Phoenix someday. If He does, great, but we’ll have to burn the ship that brought us back too.

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