When Cortes sailed with his men in search of a great Aztec treasure, he spent the many days at sea telling his men about how this great treasure of gold would change their lives. When he and his men reached the shore of their destination, they set up camp where Cortes continued to share his message. On the morning of the first day of their expedition, Cortes gave one last order...burn the boats. By burning the boats, Cortes and his men had no way of backing out of their mission and no way to return to their old lives. They were committed.
Whether this is a true story or just good lore doesn't matter. What matters is the significance of not being able to look back or turn back from our current path. When we accept Christ, we become a new creature with a new spirit and we are put on a new path with new goals. As we take on this new life in Christ, we may find ourselves looking in the rearview mirror at the life once lived. And I can admit, honestly, missing some aspects of that "old me."
No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God. Lk 9:62
Jesus tells us in Luke not to look back. Our new life in Him, with God, is our new focus and will provide all that we need, want and desire in life. How can, by looking backward, we move forward on a path that is straight? It is not possible. It is for this same reason that the windshield in our car is larger than the rearview mirror. All of the glory, the joy in life, as well as the danger, lies before us now and that is where our focus should be. Jesus also said "let the dead bury their own dead" instructing us to let those who have not found the Holy Spirit live in the past and deal with the ramifications of the past. The past is just that, the past. Let it go. Returning to the past, your old life away from Christ, has no value or benefit in pursuit of your new goals and in serving the Lord.
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining for what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Phil 3:13-14
Paul has it right. Runners run the race to win the prize. We live our new lives in Christ in pursuit of one goal: eternal life with God. Our eyes must remain fixed on Jesus and our hearts focused on fulfilling his greatest commandments: to love Him with all our heart and to love one another the same way. Everyday is an opportunity to make a difference, to serve God's people and to bring a little bit of Heaven to Earth. We can't let the attitudes and behaviors of the lost disrupt our path. Paul tells us that "their mind is on Earthly things, but our citizenship is heaven." Stay focused people, our lives depend it.
What is it that you have been called to do? Isn't it time to burn your boats?