What Did You Sign Up For?

Ernest Shackleton’s 1907 ad in London’s Times, recruiting a crew to sail with him on his exploration of the South Pole:

Wanted. Men for hazardous journey.
Low wages. Bitter cold.
Long hours of complete darkness.
Safe return doubtful.
Honor and recognition in the event of success.

Sounds like another ad:

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.Luke 9:23-24 NIV

We didn’t sign up for easy lives.  But afterward there will be glory. If we can just take it one step further and pursue The Journey with the goal that the ‘honor and recognition’ are not for ourselves but for Him, then we have brought the illustration to full bear I think.

As I remember, the recruitment ad had a huge response. The challenge for me is that Jesus‘ “ad” has to be responded to every day. I’m so grateful to be in a church that preaches about the tough voyage we are called to as believers. Seems that often in today’s churches, the call is more like an ad for a pleasure cruise.

Reminds me of this quote from Ray Ortlund’s excellent blog:

“Why do people in churches seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour of the Absolute? The tourists are having coffee and doughnuts on Deck C. Presumably someone is minding the ship, correcting the course, avoiding icebergs and shoals, fueling the engines, watching the radar screen, noting weather reports radioed in from shore. No one would dream of asking the tourists to do these things. . . . The wind seems to be picking up.

On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.”

Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk (New York, 1982), pages 52-53.

Challenging, counting the cost of following Jesus is hard, but I guess important that we do so as well – if we don’t know the truth of what it means to follow Jesus, we’ll think Him to be a liar when things get tough, as opposed to follow Him and delight in Him, knowing He’s fully aware of what we’re going through and has planned it through to the end.

*Resource: Mark Altrogge


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