How a Navy SEAL taught me to finish the race. Are you running the race for God and crossing the finishing line of your race?
I was at our men’s group last week with a great group of men. We’re all learning how to grow in our Christian walk, stumbling at times, but the men reach out and give a hand up to help each of us to continue to move forward.
One of the men, Mike, described that he always knows that God is there for him because he described a number of “encounters” that told him that God was watching out for him. But he still felt that God was not “close to him” in his walk.
My good friend Jimmy Graham (Director and Chief Instructor at ASR Training Center), a former Navy SEAL himself, responded to Mike that God showed Himself during his events should be “enough” to show God is there with him. But there was more to this story.
God pinged me His thoughts about this subject, and Jimmy’s SEAL experience came to light to describe what I was to learn. As I have told Jimmy before, I listen to his every word because I’m a learner that looks for “iron sharpens iron” opportunities to learn and grow.
While this discussion was a God “ping” to me for sure, I needed some time to digest this new information, to fully grasp the entire message God wanted me to know. Here is what I have learned.
Navy SEAL and the finish line
Navy SEAL BUD/S training requires LOTS of physical training, for weeks on end with the famous Hell Week putting trainees through a week long endurance exercise. But with one SEAL exercise story, God showed me how He sees things.
Navy SEALs run everywhere and all the time. They run to chow, run back from chow, run, run, run. Run, SEAL trainee, run.
But one running exercise involves a SEAL Instructor and the class. Running up to the finish line of their run, the Instructor crosses the finish line and so does the class. The SEAL trainees cross the finish line and stop.
He didn’t stop.
He has kept running at the same pace and was beginning to put distance between himself and the class. The trainees suddenly became aware that the instructor has not stopped and had continued. One trainee decided to follow him. Then another. Then more until the whole class was chasing after the Instructor.
Hold this thought, we’ll get back to it.
No finish line, then a finish line
I connected with my friend, Rex, who invited me to my very first bike ride. We headed out and all I knew was we were going north on the riding trail. I had no idea how far or how long we would be riding. But what was interesting is this. Because I didn’t know how far we were riding, as I was riding, I began to dread the path ahead the further we got from the starting point because I didn’t know where the half way point was to turn back.
That first half of the ride, riding toward the half way point, I found I was not in a “motivating mood” to keep going. I struggled to keep motivated to keep going and I sensed I was dragging Rex slower and slower. Plus, this was my very first bike ride and I was really out of shape. Completely. But once we arrived at the half way point (about 10 miles), my motivation picked up. Knowing the half way point, I could then know what the end goal would be. I now knew how far we were going and how far I needed to go to finish the ride. We ended up riding about 20 miles that day, 10 miles each way.
I will say this, though. During the ride, I drank plenty of water, but after the ride I had a serious crash and had to take a nap after it (Rex said I would). It took about two hours for me to recover. But each ride thereafter I no longer wanted or needed to take a nap and rest, I was getting better with each ride I took. Such it is when you’re growing.
God’s line is a journey
Now back to the Navy SEAL story.
When you see or know where the “finish line” is, some might make a last ditch effort or push to get there, others will let up just before they cross the finish line, letting their momentum carry them across. But that’s not what God wants from us.
2 John 1:8 Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.
But here’s the God ping. Like Mike’s story, we don’t feel “close to God” because the Holy Spirit is like that SEAL instructor. He is pacing ahead of us and we’ve stopped because we think we’re arrived at the destination or the “lesson learned” point when in fact God wants us to grow more. It’s not about the “lesson learned” and crossing the “lesson learned” finish line, it’s about continuing to grow.
God “feels distant” because He has moved away from us, in the direction He wants us to grow. He puts some distance between us so that we would “feel God’s distance” and seek Him out more. He wants us to “keep up with Him” in our “life run with Him.” What we thought was a “lesson’s learned” finish line was just one lesson of many. The Holy Spirit keeps “on running” ahead of us to get us to keep on running with God. To stretch ourselves and grow even more.
We’re not suppose to say, “I’ve crossed the finish line,” but “what’s my next growth lesson, God?”
Let’s keep running the race, what is my next lesson to learn?
Heb 12:1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
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