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Burn the Ships: Not Looking Back and Learning How to Overcome Disappointment

When we were young boys living in Australia, our dad was a concert promoter. On one particular tour he lost everything – our house, our car, our family’s life savings.

After several months of searching, a job opportunity presented itself for him in America. Our parents prayerfully considered it and felt this was the direction they were meant to go. So they got things in order to move with their six kids (and a seventh on the way) halfway across the world for a new beginning.

Once we’d already made the move, though, that job opportunity fell through. And for the second time in the span of a few months, we felt immense disappointment and despair. Our family back in Australia kept telling us to come home, to give up.

But our parents were convinced that we were in America for a reason, so we did what we could as a family to band together and survive. Our parents invited us in to be part of the challenges we were facing.

We mowed lawns, we cleaned houses, and we prayed together for every need that we had. We were determined not to turn back.

Hopes would crash and disappointments would continue to happen as they inevitably do, but  throughout that season of prayer and dependence on both God and each other, we saw true miracles happen as a family.

Groceries would mysteriously show up on our doorstep, our house was entirely furnished by a group of kind folks from our local church, and a family we had just recently met handed us the keys to a brand new car, to name a few. We were living in full faith, bringing our every need before the Lord, and stood in awe as He provided time after time. We were living in the miraculous.

Fast forward to a few years ago, we came across a story about an explorer who found himself in a foreign land. When he arrived, he told his men they were going to go into the land and explore. Because they feared the unknown lands that lay before them, none of his men wanted to follow – they wanted to return to what was familiar, to remain in safety. But the explorer gave his general commands they never expected.

He commanded them to burn their ships.

The explorer knew that if his men had the opportunity to turn back, they would. He knew turning back wasn’t an option. They had to charge forward into the unknown, and into a greater future, despite the challenges and disappointments that lay before them.

That story resonated with us because it’s the same concept our parents – perhaps unknowingly – taught us as kids. We felt so strongly about the hope offered by the idea of “burning the ships,” we made it a charge between Helen and the children in a pivotal scene from Unsung Hero. This is also the story that helped inspire our song, ‘Burn the Ships.’

As Christians we’re called to take the next right step that God is leading us toward. To move ahead in the things He’s inviting us to, and to be courageous.

Similar to the explorer and his men facing a fear of the unknown, sometimes when we face disappointment, it’s the things we need to move on from that actually hold us back.

It’s a lesson we encourage all parents to instill in their kids, inspired by these same lessons we learned from our Mum growing up – courage, prayer, and the strength to continue on in difficult seasons, despite sometimes tremendous odds and circumstances.

At the end of the day, part of learning how to move on from our disappointment might actually look like burning the past. 

It might just look like burning the ships.

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