"Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.—Ernest Shackleton."
And so this ad was placed seeking a crew for Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance expedition. More than 5,000 people responded to this ad. Only 28 were eventually chosen to accompany Shackleton on board the Endurance.
The plan was to cross the continent of Antarctica and meet up with another crew on the other side. Even though the mission would turn out to be unsuccessful, a great epic tale of heroism, leadership, bravery, and miracles would replace the intended goal, and not one of those 28 men would be lost.
The Endurance and her crew never did reach the continent of Antarctica. It was trapped in a sea of ice and eventually crushed. The crew salvaged what they could including three lifeboats and a decent amount of supplies and crossed on the dangerous shifting ice until they eventually made it to open water. The going was extremely strenuous and dangerous with the ice continually splitting beneath them and rising around them.
After much extreme hardship, they eventually came to rest on Elephant Island, a small island off the coast of the continent of Antarctica and one of the last remaining bits of rock before entering wide open ocean with no hope of running into more land. It was here on this harsh, windswept isle that Shackleton would leave 22 men and set off in one of the lifeboats – The James Caird – to seek rescue.
The story just continues to be incredible from beginning to end. The James Caird leg of the journey lasted 14 days and covered 800 miles of the roughest sea in the world before landing on the wrong side of South Georgia. After landing on South Georgia, Shackleton left the two weakest men behind and took two others in a mountaineering epic across South Georgia to reach the whaling station on the other side. After many more obstacles all 28 men were rescued.
Shackleton wrote concerning his crossing of South Georgia - "I have no doubt that Providence guided us…I know that during that long and racking march of thirty-six hours over the unnamed mountains and glaciers it seemed to me often that we were four, not three".
As Christian parents, we are called to be leaders and teachers of our families. This is no easy task. We cannot be lazy. We cannot be weak. We must be strong and seek wisdom. We must learn to love our families sacrificially and carry them on our strong shoulders. We must lead them from the front by living an example of what Christ expects from us and what we expect from them.
So what is my point in mentioning Earnest Shackleton and his epic journey? It is this: God is calling us for a journey. This journey will be difficult and could cost us everything. Danger and hardship are guaranteed and we will constantly be engaging an enemy who wants to kill us and take everything we have. John 10:10 “ The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy”. Jesus wants followers who are willing to step up to the challenges and He makes that clear from the beginning.
Luke 9:57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." 58 Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." 59 He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." 60 Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." 61 Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." 62 Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."
Shackleton was successful in executing an incredible journey and getting all of his men out alive. He was experienced and had been on two previous Antarctic journeys so he knew what to expect. He knew what kind of men he needed to execute this expedition. When he chose his crew he was open and honest and didn’t try to coax anyone. I believe that this incredible success story began with his honesty and continued with his integrity, his sacrificial love for his crew, and his enduring spirit.
The fact is that we are actively fighting a war. We do not have the option whether or not to fight. We can’t passively opt out or conscientiously object. We have simply one option and that option is which side to be on. Matthew 12:30 "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.”
Parenting is indeed a long and treacherous journey in the times we are living in. It seems like the media and the culture in general are pulling our children one way, and we as Christian parents are trying to pull them towards God. The goal is to raise our children to be adults who love God with all of their hearts. I pray for that every day and what a treasure it will be, worth every bit of our hard work and prayers.