On March 5th, 1836. The Alamo, a tiny mission, was under siege by the Mexican army. The besieged were 250 in number, men from around the country who had decided to become Texans, standing against the 1,500 strong Mexican army outside. On this day, William Travis, seeing no hope of survival, drew his sword and drew a line in the sand. He explained their predicament: supplies were low, ammunition was low, their chance of rescue and survival was virtually nothing. Anyone who would stand with him and fight to the death should cross the line.
All but one man crossed that line. As history shows, the men who crossed over did die; men such as Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie, legends of the frontier. They died for the cause they believed in, fighting for their new homes and land; They crossed the line to prove their dedication and their devotion.
It is from that remarkable story we now have the expression “drawing lines in the sand.” A phrase that we use to define where and how we will stand when required.
Draw a line in the sand:
- (intransitive) To lay down a challenge; to provide a test of commitment (often one which carries a high risk) to a cause.
- (idiomatic) To create a real or artificial boundary or distinction between (two places, people or things).
- (idiomatic) To indicate the threshold or level above which something will become unacceptable or will provoke a response; to create a boundary and imply or declare that its crossing will provoke a (negative) response.
– The Wictionary
More often than not, the majority of us would be content to avoid such moments. To move through life without confrontation or commitment, leaving ourselves free to do whatever we want without risk or difficulty. We suppose that when a situation arrises that we have to deal with, we’ll take it in the moment. Life is rarely so accommodating to our preferences, despite our protestations we will often be forced to “stand and deliver.”
In this situation, when a line is drawn, you have only two choices: cross the line, or stay stationary. When the lines are drawn, you cannot have one foot over each side, it is an all or nothing choice. In the Bible, men who try to stand both sides are referred to as, “double minded men.” and are declared to be, “Unstable in all their ways.”
On the farm, we usually have fence surrounding the pastures. This not only defines our property, but also offers a measure of protection for the animals within it’s bounds. By this we draw lines in the pastures and fields, indicating at which point when crossed by foreign parties we must stand to defend our property and livestock.
From the moment we place the first fence post in the ground, we have made our lines in the fields, declaring to all where we will stand and what we will protect.
Why Draw Lines At All?
Throughout life we will meet people who will say, “Come chat with me,” pulling us away from our jobs or projects. They will have suggestions for how to live our lives and spend our money. If we have not chosen where we’ll stand in those moments, we might get pulled into bad situations.
If we do not draw our own lines, they will be drawn for us.
Some people believe the world is filled with black and white decisions, right and wrong choices only; Others believe in the shades of grey, allowing that it might not be right, but it also is not wrong. Whatever viewpoint you chose, there will be times when you need to draw a line: Either to challenge others to take a stand with you, or to define where you are willing to stand when provoked.
I’ve drawn my lines, have you?