The last few weeks have been absolute hell on Earth! Besides battling through the skirmishes of my own day-to-day existence, I hear horror story after horror story about suicide, divorce, addiction, abuse – substance, physical, and otherwise, homosexuality and the cost of choosing to live that lifestyle, atheism … I mean you name it and somebody’s out there overwhelmed by the very fact they are going through this thing called life! We expect so much out of it and yet are often let down by it. Is it any wonder people are checking out on life? Is it any wonder that people have become so indifferent about life? It’s almost like we’re all saying, “Screw it! I’m getting what’s mine and that’s it!”
A couple of things have really hit me hard in these last two weeks: (1) life is never going to be easy, i.e. the SEALs say, “The only easy day was yesterday,” (2) you have to wade through all the crap to find the pony in the room, (3) it’s all about beating the attrition rate – dum spiro spero, and (4) the greatest gift that has ever been given cost a man his life.
Life is never going to be easy – “The only easy day was yesterday.”
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.” – Romans 5:3
Life is just like this, isn’t it? It just sucks sometimes but you know what, it’s expected. The Bible is clear about situations we’re going to face and it’s also clear that we have a choice in how we engage those situations and either overcome them or be overwhelmed by them. The story that Jesus tells of the two houses built on sand and rock is a great example:
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” – Matthew 7:24-27
The key to remember is that the rains come down in both houses in this story. The floodwaters rise and the winds beat on both houses as well. There’s nothing different about the situation. The only thing different is the foundation on which the house was built!
You have to wade through all the crap to find the pony in the room!
“Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.” – Proverbs 14:4
Sometimes I really have to work hard at persuading myself to believe that there is or there is going to be something good in every situation. Ultimately, there has to be because:
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” – Romans 8:28
In all likelihood (and I say this because I’ve been there) time may be the biggest factor in finding out what the pony looks like in that room full of crap. But let me ask you this: if you were in a room, waist deep in horse piss and poop and it was still rising … wouldn’t you like to see if there was at least a pony in there somewhere?
It’s all about beating the attrition rate – dum spiro spero
I used to believe that this was something that only the elite men of the SPECOPS community had to deal with as they qualified for their respective teams and units. Not so. This “attrition” gig covers every aspect of life. Think about it: what’s the current divorce rate? What’s the suicide rate in returning combat vets? How many people quit Church – quit God – because they just don’t see it or him happening?
Here’s the hard reality I’ve been learning. If I want my marriage to make it “till death do us part” I’m going to have to be willing to fight into hell for a heavenly cause! It’s not an impossible dream! It’s about having the stones to stay in the game. It would be so easy to walk away – to quit – that’s why so many people are broken. They’ve quit.
Go back to the SPECOPS community. How many fully qualified men – men who believed in their hearts before they got there that they could succeed and come home with a Trident or a Green Beret – dropped out? Exponentially more than will ever wear those distinguished items. Is it because their bodies couldn’t do it any longer? Maybe 1% if that many but I’ll bet you it was simply because they quit. They gave up. At some deep, dark recess in their psyche, they became comfortable with throwing in the towel. Their heads – and their hearts – weren’t in it anymore.
It’s always going to be hard. I don’t doubt that one bit. But it’s like the old combat saying, “Complacency kills.” The minute you quit moving forward – even if it’s just moving forward a centimeter at a time – you cease making progress. You regress. You lose.
The greatest thing we have in life is hope. DUM SPIRO SPERO – “while I breathe, I hope”
The greatest gift that has ever been given cost a man his life
Have you heard the quote or read the email containing the quote, “Only two defining forces ever offered to die for you. Jesus Christ and the American Soldier: one died for your soul … the other for your freedom.” It humbles me when I read that because I know others who have gone long before me providing for the very freedoms that I so often take for granted. It almost reads cliché but it’s true. Jesus said:
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – John 15:13
I have found that it’s only when I truly lay down my own agenda’s that my marriage is at its best. I have found that it’s only when I lay down my life that I can serve my fellow Soldiers without hesitation or judgment. I continue to find that when I lay down my life for others, Jesus is proclaimed. And that’s the ultimate goal - being a light for Christ.
“Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” – Matthew 5:16