A Hazardous Voyage

by Bill Bright

"Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age'" (Matthew 28:20, NLT).

In 1914, Irish explorer Ernest Shackleton set out to cross Antarctica by foot-1,500 miles, north to south. He intended to use 39 sled dogs to lead him-dogs that were eventually butchered and eaten by his desperate crew that at one stretch had not set foot on land for 497 days.

They lost their ship, the Endurance, in crushing pack ice and for months lived on the ice. When the floes began to crack and melt in the summer, they boarded three lifeboats and set sail to Elephant Island, where they were still not safe. Shackleton left most of the crew there but took five of the best and sailed 800 miles away to South Georgia Island, where he was able to get help to go back and rescue the rest of the crew.

How did Shackleton get men to volunteer for such a hazardous voyage? They signed up in response to an advertisement he placed in the London Times, which said: "Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger. Safe return doubtful."

In spite of this warning, brave men came from all over to sign on for the crew. Shackleton pledged that no man would die on this voyage, later saying to his crew, "Follow as I lead, do what I say must be done, and I'll get you home." Incredibly, two years later, he did.

Isn't it amazing that people will sign up for such a temporal cause under such miserable conditions, with a good chance of losing their lives? Yet, many people are reluctant to totally commit their lives to our Lord Jesus Christ- who created us, loves us and died for us -and His glorious purposes.

It reminds me of the words of our Lord Jesus, "If any of you wants to be my follower," he told them, "you must put aside your own pleasures and shoulder your cross, and follow me closely. If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it" (Mark 8:34-35, TLB).

That passage has been very meaningful to me ever since I was a young Christian. Our Lord's next words have proven true: "Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to REALLY live" (emphasis added).

Our Lord did not promise that it would be easy to serve Him. In fact, many live in danger and have been martyred for His cause. But He promised to be with us, and that by following Him, we will discover "what it means to really live." There is no other way to "really live" except by following Christ.

Shackleton, a mere human, said, "Follow as I lead, do what I say must be done, and I'll get you home." If we follow Jesus, the Son of God, and do what He says, He will get us to our real home, heaven!

© 2003, Bill Bright

Bill Bright was the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ

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