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A calling to “Burn the boats!”

Hearing and obeying the call of God to move to another country to represent Him is a radical step that always requires a sacrifice. Hearing His voice on what to do with those things that are being left behind is essential, as SSMF missionary pastor Ben Grisez reveals.

When I sensed the call of God to move to Australia, I didn’t have a calendar with times and dates filled in.  There was no doubt about the call, but I had no clue about how or when it would happen.

–I didn’t know where our family would be going.

–I didn’t know how long the process would take.

–I didn’t know how long God would allow us to live in Australia.

The only thing I knew was that God had called me and my family to go.

Our part was to obey God by going through the open door He would sovereignly reveal to us in His time.  The process ended up taking many years.

During that process, my wife Laura and I had discussed and were in agreement on one thing:  we would “burn the boats“.

While there is apparently debate concerning the origin of this idiom – whether it best describes the approach of the Romans, conquistador Cortez, or someone else – there is little debate of the meaning.

It means the point of no return has been reached.

There would be no retreat for the band of men who traveled by boat to the land of their enemies.  The boats were burned to prevent anyone from using the boats as a means of escape should things prove difficult.

In poker terminology, it means you are “all in.”  The entire chip stack has been pushed to the middle of the table and nothing has been left in reserve.

Our family has deep roots in San Diego.  All of my family lives within miles of each other and Laura’s did too.  For us, burning the boats meant selling our house.

Should we have continued to rent out the house, there would have remained a potential home for us to return to if things became hard.

God’s directive to Abram in Genesis 12:1 hit home:  “Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.”  

It was not without the promise Jesus gives in Mark 10:29-30:  “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, 30 who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time–houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions–and in the age to come, eternal life.

We needed God to move our hearts for Australia long before our feet touched Australian soil.

Selling our house was a big Ebenezer for us.  The miraculous way God ordained the sale only confirmed we were walking in obedience to His will.

Is it wrong for a missionary to rent out their home while they are on the mission field?  Absolutely not!

But for us it was an act of faith that we believed God would establish our family in Australia, even as He had been faithful to do in San Diego.  Should we have kept the house, it would have signaled our lack of faith in God’s provision.  It would have provided temptation to return when we faced persecutions or trials.

In no way do I condone being caviler or reckless, testing God to conform to our short-sighted will.  We are called to be good stewards of God’s gifts.

But if God tells us to sell in a buyer’s market we should do it – even if holding onto a house may make it more valuable in the future.

Is God’s hand shortened He cannot provide?

We are convinced that if we hold onto our old life, we will not be able to enter into the new one God has prepared for us.

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