I heard once that when Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas, he burned the sails of his ships to take the possibility of going “home” out of the minds of his men. I have also read that Cortez ordered his ships to be burned in 1519, before leading his men into battle against the Aztecs, in order to take away their ability to retreat.
This was our strategy when we moved to Seattle. Burn the sails.
We wanted to settle our hearts there permanently and erase the option of retreating when we grew weary. There wouldn’t be an option to just “go home,” because this would be our home. And this is exactly what we did. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t immediate, but Seattle became our home.
So after two years, when God stirred up something new before us and started leading us back to Texas, we experienced the painful process of leaving our home, again. Once we arrived in Dallas, I was heartsick and weak. In 3 years, I uprooted my heart from my home and reinvested it fully into a new home, twice! I didn’t feel strong enough to do it again. I didn’t want to invest in deep, life-giving friendships that I would most likely be forced to leave behind, just like before.
This morning, God reminded me of a line from one of my favorite movies, Bella. If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.
I started thinking about my own life, and the lives of many of my friends, and how most of us would never have thought that God would have us where He does today. We have dreamt big dreams with God, some of which came true, some of which grew into even wilder dreams, and some of which changed completely. We have said “Yes,” to Him, sometimes ending up where we thought, sometimes ending up somewhere unexpected, and sometimes never even getting to where we heard Him say “Go,” in the first place.
Yet this shouldn’t come as a surprise, really. He has already told us,
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
I knew I was experiencing huge breakthrough in my heart this morning when this didn’t frustrate me, but it stirred up thankfulness within me. Reflections on the impact of each of my journeys played across my mind–all the ways He has captured my heart, trained me, humbled me, released greater anointing on me, laid foundations under me, set me up to thrive, created perfect timings–all opportunities I might have missed if my plans prevailed and not His. What I see as the evolution of His plan for me (a plan established before the foundation of the earth) produced wonder and awe at His Majesty, when before it was producing unbelief.
Then those reflections were replaced by memories of all the friends I have walked with in each of these journeys. I miss them, but I do not regret investing my heart in those friendships, even if we were only together a short time. If I knew from the start that I would only be in Seattle for 2 years, would I have held back? Kept my distance to protect my heart? If I did, I would have missed countless opportunities to be Jesus to people and to receive more of Jesus from people.
I wouldn’t have caught Pete’s contagious, bold spirit to live my life with 1 overriding goal- to share Jesus. I wouldn’t have learned from Catherine how to really love others like family, opening up every part of my life to them. I wouldn’t have received the deeper revelation of total surrender from watching Martin and Terri’s life. I wouldn’t have grown in faith from seeing Julia respond to the Holy Spirit and impart gifts of the Spirit to others. I wouldn’t have received the blessing of deep, life-giving relationship with one of the most fiery, joyful, purposeful couples that Dan and I know, the Emlers. I wouldn’t have received the incomparable gift of being loved so fully by Trinity while also watching her love wildly and invest intentionally in Norah. I wouldn’t have been spurred on in faith by sharing life with Angie- a woman of radical trust in the promises of her King. I wouldn’t have grown in humility, anointing, and faith from learning to follow behind and walk beside Jady, Liz, Brian, Kristin, Erika, Andrew, Carrie- a powerhouse staff. I could continue…for paragraphs, and pages, and volumes.
I would throw my heart out there again, and again, and again, and again.
Because I know that He knows what He is doing, every step of the way.
David said, I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me (Psalm 57:2). Proverbs says many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand (19:21). And today, I say here is my heart. I’m burning my sails. Don’t let me miss what you have for me here, even if but for a moment. And when your plans bring the unexpected in my life, may the wonder always yield awe, and never unbelief.
I will live like I’m not leaving. I will invest in relationship with an unhindered heart. Today is a new day, and I started by finally unpacking all the boxes I left packed up in the spare room. Dallas is now my home.
Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous!…
For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness…
Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.
The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.