Run for Your Life!
"If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it."
It was late summer when Sir Ernest Shackleton left England with twenty-seven men, bound for Antarctica . They set sail on the HMS Endurance, initially built to carry polar bear hunting parties into the Arctic. Sir Ernest had first been to the Antarctic in 1901; in 1907, he led his own expedition in a failed attempt to be the first to cross the continent. This time he was determined to succeed! They left the last port of call December 5, 1914.
Reaching pack ice (the top layer of frozen sea) on December 11, the ship was unable to make more than thirty miles a day. It was still summer in the Southern Hemisphere, but by mid-January the ice closed in and froze around the ship, causing it to rotate with the floes in a circular pattern around the Weddell Sea. Early May the sun slipped behind the horizon for the last time that year, plunging the ship and its crew into complete darkness.
Winter on the Endurance was cold and still; the men shot seals to supplement their rations, using the thick blubber for cooking fuel. In August the first sounds of pressure were heard as the floes began to break up. Initially the ship was fine, but as millions of tonnes of pressure came against her, the bow split on October 27. After pumping and bailing, the order to abandon ship was given forty-eight hours later, 210 miles from land.
On November 21, 1915, the HMS Endurance sank slowly beneath the ice. Survival, rather than crossing the Antarctic, became the aim of Shackleton and his crew. Their hardships are legendary and their perseverance admirable; on the morning of May 22, 1916, six men from the expedition walked into a whaling station—522 days since setting sail. And after three frustrating attempts, the remainder of the party was rescued August 30, 1916, seventeen months without contact from the outside world.
One author drew these comparisons between Shackleton's ice prison and sin:
• Sin will take you farther than you ever wanted to go.
• Sin will keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay.
• Sin will cost you more than you ever wanted to pay.
History records a rather profound journal entry during that period: "The ship is pretty near the end and what the ice gets . . . the ice keeps."
So, how do we master sin? How do we keep from floating farther and farther away from spiritual safety? Paul answers these questions with practical advice in 2 Timothy 2:22. He tells young Timothy to "flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness." Flirting with sin may not take your life, but it will take everything else it possibly can!
It's interesting that Paul never advised Timothy to battle his lusts—to stand and fight against them. Instead, he said, "Run for your life . . . flee!"
If sin is lurking at your door, keep it closed! Move to another location as quickly as you can . . . and don't leave a forwarding address.
Prayer Point: If you are trapped in sin today, you can rid yourself of it right now. 1 John 1:9 says: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." It's far better to 'fess up to Christ, than to face up to the consequences.
Extra Refreshment: Read Genesis 39—a vivid picture of what it means to run for your life!
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