The Jewish people are finally free-- taken out of Egypt. God takes them through a circuitous route, though to ensure that they would not want to return to Egypt. God knew that if he took them through the shorter route, they would encounter a war, and as the Torah explains this might have been too challenging for them and they would have possibly returned to Egypt.
This reflects a challenge that all people face as they leave old ways and take on new directions: the urge to quit. The Jewish people were elated to have been freed and despite the promises of a better life and one of liberty, they were not immune to doubt and may have quit with too many challenges.
Around 2,000 years ago, Julius Caesar and his naval armada set out to conquer England. As the Roman ships drew near the coast, the Celtic enemy could be seen lining the Cliffs of Dover, eagerly awaiting battle. Caesar is said to have directed the ships away from the cliffs, and docked, albeit surrounded by Celtic soldiers. Caesar then made an incredibly daring move. He knew his men were tired and he questioned their commitment and resolve. As long as the Roman ships remained along the coast, there would be thoughts of retreat.
Caesar ordered the ships to be burned.
This way, there would be no escape, no retreat. If the Roman soldiers were going to be pushed back, it would be into the sea. Caesar needed commitment from every one of his soldiers and he needed them to realize that defeat was not an option. They had come to conquer – and stay.
Sometimes, the hardest part of taking on a new drection or leaving an old habit is not the initial resolve, but overcoming the desire to give up and quit when the challenges arise. If we had in our mind the notion that we are here to "conquer and stay" and burn the ships that go back to our old ways or to environments and relationships that are oppressive and detrimental, we would ensure our success.
in the wars of life.