I watched a movie quite a while back called ‘Gattaca’. Wasn’t a great movie, but had an entertaining “what if?” quality about it. It was all about genetics and engineering human beings….and not only design humans, but predict and direct their lives based on those findings.
In the story Ethan Hawk plays Victor, a character of inferior dna who uses someone else’s dna to succeed in life. He goes through great lengths to hide his identity and carefully covers his tracks on a daily basis. The part that’s interesting is that he was originally told he was inferior, had little chance of succeeding…but his brother was supposed to be the wonder kid. He was supposed to be brighter, stronger, faster, and FAR superior to Ethan’s character…but he wasn’t.
At one point in the movie it is revealed that as kids, they used to play a form of chicken…they would swim out until someone got scared and turned back. The older brother, Anton, always won. He was stronger, faster, and had no excuse as to why he wouldn’t win.
Years later in the story, they raced again. This day things were different. As they raced into the open sea, Anton tries to keep pulling away from Ethan’s character but cannot. That day everything changed. After swimming a great ways out, the older brother struggled and had to be rescued by Victor, the inferior brother. Than day Anton was not as strong as he believed…and Victor was not as weak as he believed and “it was the moment that made everything else possible”.
As adults, Anton’s life has not been as successful as everyone predicted and he wants to secure his superiority to Victor who has greatly exceeded him in life by racing again. They race a long ways out, only to find that Victor beats him again. At the turning point where Anton yields to the test and turns back, Victor lets him know why he can do what he can do.
He can do it because he doesn’t save anything for the swim back.
SO many times in life we save something for the return swim to shore. We set out against the waves, we brave the danger, and take great risks…only to find ourselves holding something in reserve…holding out on going all out for something.
And that little bit we hold back…that back door bail out is what we think will stop us from falling flat on our faces but it actually stops us from going all in….and succeeding.
In the story of Elijah and Elisha, Elijah is the prophet. He’s God’s man and he is told by God to offer the position of apprentice to Elisha. Elisha is in a field plowing it with oxen when Elijah puts his mantel on him…signifying that he’s being offered this position. What does Elisha do? Elisha takes his oxen and kills them, takes his plowing equipment and builds a fire with them to roast up the meat from the oxen and serves it to his friends.
Why is this grilling out with friends significant? Elisha is not saving anything for the return trip. If you believe in God, believe He’s called you to something…and you believe it with your whole heart…you don’t save anything to come back to…it’s an all-in move. Elisha killed his oxen, burned his equipment, and his investment was gone. There was no going back.
I don’t believe it’s a typical move that everyone should do all the time. It would not be good advice to do this with all earthly decisions…like, I can’t imagine someone saying to me that God told them about a particular investment scenario and then for me to sell EVERYTHING and put money into that. Maybe someone told me God told them where gold was in Alaska and let’s go buy some equipment to stake a claim in the Klondike…or maybe the Iraqi dinar re-evaluation will actually pan out. But no one would find it prudent to sink everything including house and children’s college tuition into it.
But there are times when you’re all in and you need to burn the boats like Cortes was said to have done. Cortes was worried his men would mutiny and try to escape to Cuba instead of conquering…so he burned the ships, leaving nothing for a return trip. Can you imagine getting married and keeping pictures of your old girlfriends around? Maybe you’ve got a few phone numbers hidden under code names? How would the marriage be…especially if the bride knew about your hidden stash?
I find myself doing that with God sometimes. I hold back….leaving a way out…keep some of those old numbers.
We are the bride…and yet we keep old pictures and numbers around…thinking He’s none the wiser. We keep saying we want to go deeper, get more out of the relationship, be in love the way we used to…and all the time we cheat late at night on the internet, hit the bar, or call that old number that only brings trouble.
There are times when we need to keep a reserve, but there are also times to go all out…to burn the bridge or the boats behind us giving us no choice but to go forward and fight with everything we have. There is a time to remove every single idol, every single stumbling block, and remove the weaknesses and give in to His leading moving only forward.
We know moving forward is uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and damn scarey…but there is also a time when we realize that to stay where we are…is killing us.