Monday, August 23, 2010

"By Endurance We Conquer" -Enduring the Long Race one step at a time. -By Jason Prince

In 1914, a British explorer named Ernest Shackleton led an unsuccessful attempt to cross Antarctica, where his 27-man crew became stranded for 20 months.

This incredible story is one of relentless drive and perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds, and of one man’s extraordinary leadership skills and unmatched discipline.

After tasting success from previous leading the “British Antarctic Expedition,” Shackleton began to plan another expedition. He organized what would be the first team to cross the Antarctic continent—a 1,800-mile journey across the unknown. During the trip, team members also planned to make magnetic observations and study ice formations and mountains.

Under the British flag, the expedition was called the “Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition,” and would be led by Shackleton. He named the ship the Endurance, inspired by his family’s motto, “By endurance we conquer.”

Just as Shackleton and the crew were about to set sail, World War I broke out between Britain and Germany. Showing tremendous loyalty to his country, Shackleton questioned whether the expedition was still worthwhile.

Shackleton sent a telegram to the Admiralty and explained to his crew, “First let me say that if war is declared, any man who wishes to leave the expedition to serve his country is free to do so. It is clear to me where our first duty lies, and this morning I telegraphed the First Lord of the Admiralty and put our ship, and every one of us, at his disposal. We now await his decision. I hope you will forgive me, but I particularly asked that if he saw fit to employ us in the service of our country, that might he allow us to stay together, perhaps aboard a destroyer. I did this because I can honestly think of no finer group of men with whom to serve.”

Shackleton received a one-word reply: “Proceed.”

Have you ever been in the middle of race praying to God for strength and received a clear message from him to "Proceed"? It may be subtle such as leg cramps going away, a renewed strength in the last 800 meters, or a fellow competitor coming up behind you and saying "Hey, whats Multisport Ministries all about?"

The story goes on...

The first few hundred miles were rough, but the ship made it successfully through the ice. After continuing on, the Antarctic summer soon ended and the winter months set in. The ship began to run into heavier ice.Shackleton soon realized they were stranded. Cracks in the ice appeared, but, in the end, attempts to free the ship were unsuccessful. The crew prepared for the long, cold winter, and turned the ship into a winter station. The men determined to wait out the winter in hopes that the coming spring would melt the ice around the ship and free it.

Shackleton remained optimistic and, despite the circumstances, the explorers stayed cheerful and busy. They cut out large blocks of ice and built igloos around the ship for themselves and the dogs. They survived on rations and seals that came within reach of their temporary camp. Temperatures were frigid, sometimes dipping down to less than –20 degrees Fahrenheit. But with dogsled races, and frequent games of hockey and football, they kept their spirits high.

You've heard the saying, "When you get lemons, make lemonade." Well that's exactly what Shackleton did. Endurance through hard times requires adaptation to the new environments God has led you. Feel like your stuck on a block of ice? Make an igloo and play hockey. Surround yourself with men who know how to endure through hard times, and have the mental will power to help you through.

Changing Course

In the beginning of 1915, the team was still 250 miles from Paulet Island and too far east of it. Shackleton wrote, “After a year’s incessant battle with the ice, we had returned…to almost identically the same latitude that we had left with such high hopes and aspirations twelve months previously; but under what different conditions now! Our ship crushed and lost, and we ourselves drifting on a piece of ice at the mercy of the winds.”

Gods "course" is not always clear, and we may find ourselves "Drifting on a piece of ice at the mercy of the winds." We may also find ourselves in the exact same location we have been for months. I know i have been there, should we give up? It must be that God wants to teach us something in that spot!

Shackleton knew the only hope for survival was if a few men journeyed to find a rescue ship. Shackleton wrote, “A boat journey in search of relief was necessary and must not be delayed.” He discussed with a few of his top men the prospect of making it to South Georgia before another winter approached; the decision was soon made. The plan was to cross the more than 800 miles of sub-Antarctic Ocean to the possibility of help at South Georgia.

After preparing the boat, Shackleton, along with five others, set sail from Elehpant Island. The voyage was one of constant discomfort and narrow quarters. Shackleton recalled, “We fought the seas and the winds and at the same time had a daily struggle to keep ourselves alive. At times we were in dire peril.” Days went by and the iceberg of Elephant Island gradually shrank into the distance.

The men pushed on through the driving winds and ferocious waters of the Arctic Sea. The explorers finally landed on the southern coast of South Georgia. But the whaling station was on the opposite side of the island. “We were still 150 miles away from Stromness whaling-station by sea. The alternative was to attempt the crossing of the island…Over on Elephant Island twenty-two men were waiting for the relief that we alone could secure for them. Their plight was worse than ours. We must push on somehow.”


They soon made plans to cross over the mountain range to the other side of the island. The men removed screws from the boat to use in their boots for traction to climb the treacherous ice slopes. They crossed the island to the whaling station after more than a day’s journey.

After descending the mountains, they heard the distinct sound of a steam-whistle. Shackleton wrote, “Never had any one of us heard sweeter music. It was the first sound created by outside human agency that had come to our ears since we left…That whistle told us that men were living near, that ships were ready, and that within a few hours we should be on our way back to Elephant Island to the rescue of the men waiting there…It was a moment hard to describe. Pain and ache, boat journeys, marches, hunger and fatigue seemed to belong to the limbo of forgotten things, and there remained only the perfect contentment that comes of work accomplished.”

The whalers sent a ship to the other side of the island to pick up the remaining men there, then continued on to rescue the 22 others on Elephant Island.

In the end, the expedition lasted two years. All 27 of the men survived! When one of the survivors was asked how they had made it, he answered with one word: “Shackleton.”

I want to insert the name "JESUS" right there. Its seems to fit better. If you re-read the story and instead of saying "Shackleton" you say "Jesus", the story becomes one that is very familiar to many of us.

“Endure unto the End”

What lessons can we learn from this incredible story of survival? Shackleton’s example of extraordinary leadership and perseverance has many applications for those striving to live God’s Way.

Those growing up in God’s Church face an extremely difficult age, bombarded every day at school, work or home by the pulls of this world. You may feel intense pressure to give in to the ways of this world. But if you are striving to please God, you must not give in.

Although Proverbs 13:15 states that “the way of transgressors is hard,” living according to God’s laws and principles is not easy either. Overcoming this world is hard work, and takes longsuffering, patience and endurance. Yet it is possible, and yields incredible blessings if one stays the course and refuses to give in—no matter the cost.

Those living God’s Way must endure trials. They must overcome many obstacles in their lives. Notice Matthew 24: “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (vs. 13). Here, endurance is directly tied to receiving salvation. (Also see Mark 4:17 and James 5:11.) The Greek word for endure means to “remain…bear (trials)…have fortitude…persevere, abide, take patiently, suffer.”

Endurance is a godly characteristic of which we should all strive to have more. In fact, God never quits. And once we have decided to live His Way, neither can we. We must stay the course! When you feel like caving in, or giving up, consider Shackleton’s story and how he overcame against all odds. If we persevere, God promises our reward will be great (Rev. 21:7)! 

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