i am fascinated by ernest shackleton and his failed attempt to cross antarctica. i’ve read several books and watched several documentaries on the trials of the endurance crew but until this week i had not read much concerning the ross sea party (on the aurora, the supply ship for the second half of the journey across antarctica). in this book i was reminded that while shakelton was considering crew members for the two ships he divided their names into three drawers labeled “mad,” “hopeless,” and “possible.”
how true is that? don’t you have to be a little mad or hopeless to be a part of a great adventure into the dangerous unknown? don’t you have to to be a little mad or hopeless to take a “leap to faith” that is serious enough that real harm is faced if it doesn’t turn out? most of us are simply too sane to take such leaps. that’s probably why we don’t see GOD do truly incredible things very often.
instead of taking real serious “leaps to faith” we try to describe slight and tame acts of faith as though they are gigantic. there is no real risk in them. no harm comes if they fail. the church continues, our prestige isn’t harmed, there is no great struggle that happens as result of the failed attempt because the leaps that we usually take just aren’t very great. shackelton’s and the ross sea party’s journeys were life and death. usually we followers of CHRIST are merely trying to jump a very small puddle while pretending that it is the atlantic ocean we are trying to span.
nope, most of the time we followers of CHRIST are very rarely “mad” or “hopeless” and therefore we rarely face the real opportunity of being put into the “possible” drawer when it comes to things that are truly amazing works of the kingdom of GOD. the amazing works of the kingdom of GOD involve real risk. the kingdoms of our churches do things that don’t require “mad” or “hopeless” people because usually there is very little real risk involved in those tasks. i believe that the stories of scripture reflect that GOD is always looking for the the “mad” and “hopeless” because they are the only ones crazy enough to attempt the things that are a part of HIS kingdom. those stories, and the modern day continuance of them, are cool because they are risky.
may all of us who call ourselves followers of JESUS become a little more “mad” and “hopeless” in taking risks with and for HIS kingdom.
SIDE NOTE – the above image is from a series of watercolor paintings inspired by shackleton’s journey. you can see the rest of them at samantha scherer’s website