Burn The Ships

Written by Tabitha White 

“Burn the ships!”

According to legend, this was the order issued by Hernan Cortes as his crew landed in Mexico in 1519. Cortes was attempting to conquer a population of five million people with 663 men! Can you imagine the thoughts going through each crewman’s mind or the adrenaline and anxiety that raced through their veins? The men prepared to disembark from their ships and were immediately told to set fire to their escape plan. They were about to trek into unknown territory, and their captain wanted them to destroy their ships! I, for one, would not have been very eager to light that first torch.

However, legend says that Cortes and his crew did indeed burn the ships. They didn’t hold onto their escape route, but instead set off on their next conquest.

Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”.

How many of us have felt the weight that Cortes surely felt? We look at the battles in our lives and feel like the odds are stacked against us. We want to take a step of faith, but we are weighed down by fear, worry, anxiety, and a myriad of other emotions. Or maybe, we are scared to take that leap of faith because of hurts from our past, so instead we choose to stay in the safety of our “ship.”

What would happen if we followed the advice of the writer of Hebrews? What would it feel like to “throw off everything that hinders”?

A few weeks ago, a sweet 12 year old and I did just that!

Each Valentine’s Day weekend, I have the honor of taking an amazing group of 4th-6th graders to Kids456. It’s one of my favorite weekends of the year! We have the best time! We stay up too late, laugh until we cry, and eat entirely too much candy. More importantly, we spend time in God’s presence, and we all are forever changed! This year was no different!

At the end of the first service, one of our girls walked up to me with big tears in her eyes and an even bigger smile on her face. “Mrs. Tabitha, Jesus took away my anxiety tonight!” As she said the words, she burst into tears and gave me the biggest hug! When I looked at her, I could immediately see the change! She wasn’t fidgeting with her fingernails or looking around the room. She was locked in on me and was beaming with joy! “He did it! He really took away all my anxiety!” 

By the next morning, she had hatched a plan. She was going to ride the zipline across the lake and drop a rock into the water to symbolize leaving her anxiety behind. Through breakfast, small group time, and the morning service, she was looking forward to dropping her “anxiety rock.” Her enthusiasm was both contagious and challenging! When she asked me to ride the zipline with her, I knew that was my confirmation that I had some baggage I needed to drop into the lake too! As we waited in line for our harnesses, this sweet girl was surrounded by her own “crowd of witnesses.” Her friends could already see the change in her, and they were also challenged to drop their own burdens in the lake.

By the time everyone was harnessed and ready to go, eight of us had picked rocks that would symbolize burdens of worry, depression, control, anxiety, body issues, and much more. As I watched Harper drop her anxiety, and I let go of my own worries, I couldn’t stop my tears! Overnight, Jesus had made changes that I knew would last a lifetime! 

In the weeks since dropping our rocks, we have all been tempted to pick up the burdens that we dropped into the lake. It was impossible for Cortes and his men to rebuild ships from embers just like it’s impossible to go back to the lake and fish out the exact rock that we dropped. If only it were impossible to pick up burdens we’ve laid down at the cross. However, that’s what the writer of Hebrews tells us to do!

Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”. My prayer for each of us in 2022 is that we will leave behind the burdens that hold us back and run our race toward Jesus with all our might!

And if at any point we feel tempted to go back and pick up the burdens we’ve already given to Him, may we quickly be reminded of the lessons we’ve learned from a very brave 12 year old and a 16th century explorer: drop your rock, burn the ships, and run swiftly toward our Savior!


Kathy Stoudenmire - March 7th, 2022 at 12:18pm

Soooo inspiring, especially at this juncture in my life! Thank you Pastor Tabitha!!!

Kelly Blount - March 7th, 2022 at 2:39pm

Great word! I’ve been burning ships this year too.

Cathy Roberson - March 8th, 2022 at 1:33am

Great word❣️🙏⚓️🙏

We are all to be as children.

Inspiring. Thank you for sharing.