Friday, December 26, 2014

Where Are the Shackeltons?

 In 1914, Ernest Shackleton began preparations, both materially and financially for what he dubbed "The Imperial Trans-Arctic Expedition".  The goal was simple; to be the first men to cross the continent of Antarctica.  A journey of that sort requires supplies and backing, but it also requires men who possess  more than just a little bit of the spirit of adventure.  Shackleton, sensing this, ran the preceding advertisement in the newspaper.  His interest wasn't so much as what was in a man's head as what was in a man's heart.  He understood that you can buy brains, but you can't buy character.
  Amazingly, thousands of men saw the ad, and over 5,000 responded.  Along the journey their ship, the Endurance, was entombed in the Artic ice and the expedition had to be abandoned.  The rest of their journey was a journey of survival, in which the crew made it's way across the ice, and a majority of the crew had to stay behind on the continent while Shackelton and two other men went for help. Even then, the rescue was delayed by weather and the men who answered the ad were forced to wait in man-killing cold and deprivation.  Impossibly, all but three men made it home, and it's a fascinating story. 
  What's particularly fascinating to me is that it did not have to happen that way. The men who answered this ad could just as easily perished on the ice,and they knew it.They left behind comfort, security ,and family in order to be part of a grand and glorious adventure.  I don't know if it was the spirit of the age or simply Shackletons powerful vision, but men responded,and put their very lives on the line for something that could have ended in unspeakable tragedy.
  As Christians, God calls us to be a part of a grand and glorious adventure; the ministry.  He promises us a hazardous journey but a journey with a fruitful end.  Yet so many of us look to the ends of the earth and then cast an eye back towards the safety and familiarity of that which is known.  We live in a quagmire of our own comfort, never daring to really risk anything for God.  We  anticipate that somebody else will reach the lost, somebody else will preach the gospel, somebody else will leave all to teach the Bible.  Truthfully, most people are already experiencing as much  discomfort and persecution for Jesus Christ as they desire.  I mean, I know Jesus Christ  endured the contradiction of sinners against himself for me, but give up Starbucks? Are you  mad?  Go knock on a stranger's door and talk to them about their soul? You must be insane! Preach in public?  What are you, some sort of weirdo?
  I fear that the spirit of Shackleton age has left us.  Honestly, in the  grand scheme of things, if no one had EVER crossed Antarctica it would have very little bearing on the lives of anyone.  The things God has called us to do, however, are eternal in nature, and  bear results long after this world will have passed away.  But are any of us willing to do it?

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