Before Sir Earnest Shackleton sailed for the Antarctic in 1914, he put an advertisement in a London paper that read, "Wanted: Men to go on an Antarctic expedition. Small wages. Bitter cold. Safe return doubtful." More than 5,000 men responded. The ship was named Endurance from Shackleton's family motto: "By endurance we conquer!"
The saga of his journey, including the crushing of the ship by the ice, the long journey across the frozen wasteland, the voyage of Shackleton to Elephant Island and his trek across never-before-crossed mountains to the whaling station, is one of the greatest adventure stories.
As I learned of the ad that Shackleton placed in a paper, I thought of the words of Ezekiel, the yougn man who stood alone in Babylon long ago. Ezekiel records a plea that God makes: "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none" (Ezekiel 22:30).
The same kind of challenge resounded in the recruitment of Jesus' disciples. When he confronted men, saying, "Follow me!" they followed. He challenged, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it" (Luke 9:23-24).
The men who followed Shackleton were tough, committed and believed in his ability to bring them back safely - which he did, reflecting his integrity, skill and leadership. To his credit, not a single life was lost in that heroic endeavor. One greater than Shackleton still says, "Follow me and I will make you fishers to be men!"
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. MATTHEW 9:9