When I decided that I would be a Reconnaissance Marine, I knew the water would be my biggest challenge. The key to water confidence is knowing that the water will always win, so don’t fight it, work with it, and of course, don’t suck.
I trained quite a bit at the pool on base. I felt pretty good going into the course until I didn’t. I trained, but that first day of BRC (Basic Reconnaissance Course) told me that I didn’t train hard enough. I was smoked, and at that moment I knew, this is going to suck. I made it, but that’s because I wanted it. Moving forward, I knew that I would need to take on new challenges more aggressively and up my preparation game.
I help lead a ministry for young adults in their 20s at my church. A good friend of mine leads it with his wife on Wednesday nights. When he has to travel for work, he’s asked for me to fill in. This past week was my second go at it, and if you were to ask me, I’d say I’m mediocre at best. That mediocrity is targeted at my ability, or lack thereof, to speak on the word of God correctly. But I want to be able to.
The following day I met with a young man who was in attendance the night I led. Great conversation; there’s nothing like tackling life together with another man of God whose only goal is to become better. It’s life-giving and worth every second. Time well spent, beautiful afternoon, 75 and sunny with a cool ocean breeze sweeping the back patio of my favorite local watering hole, you can’t help but smile.
We prayed, hugged, and went our separate ways. Well, I didn’t go far. I had ordered a beer on arrival but never took a sip. I was locked in the conversation because I wanted to be. I took my usual seat at the bar and ordered a fresh Pseudo Sue in somewhat of a celebratory manner. God is good. I had just finished walking this young man through the ups and downs of life, which are inevitable but pressing the fact that God is constant. And in Christ, when we hit those downs, it’s not the same as when we didn’t have Christ. I’m not saying we won’t struggle, and times won’t be challenging, but we move towards the light where comfort awaits.
I enjoy preparing a message. I learn so much in the process. Not even five minutes after we parted ways via me moving to the bar, a text from Wife comes in. I’ll say she’s informing me of a familial infraction of a high degree. I’m conflicted; this doesn’t make sense. What happened is irrelevant. What matters is where it took me, and where it had taken me was down. Deep, dark, and hollow, that type of down.
Lucky for me, and I mean that, I’ve been here before. It looks the same as it did before, but I admit, I peeked around for a second. Not interested, now If you’ll excuse me, I’ll see myself out. Ups and downs, not saying we won’t struggle, and times won’t be difficult, and this one was difficult. That little peek around almost caused me to skip the day and a half I had planned on spending at our annual men’s retreat that evening. Knowing I couldn’t make it the entire weekend, I figured I wouldn’t be missing much if I skip a night, silly rabbit.
That night from the picturesque coastal views of Point Loma, a soft-spoken, teary-eyed strong, and fearless young man came over to say hello. After I fumble with the introduction, I understand that he was there the first night I led in my friends’ absence. That night I shared a message on redemption. During the Q&A, one of the final questions I received was, “What should I do if I think a friend of mine is considering suicide?”
As I receive counsel on leading this group, an important point to remember is not to feel obligated to answer every question. I responded with, ask. If you think and are unsure, then you need to ask the question directly.
This courageous man informed me that the following day he took that advice and put it into practice. His brother is in the Navy and serving overseas but has been struggling. He had his suspicions, but after hearing the message the previous night, he decided to act. His brother told him he was planning to kill himself. I’m in pure awe as he shares this story because this was not my doing, not even in the slightest.
After we prayed, I ran through the whole story in my head while everyone enjoyed the evening’s festivities. How does one day bring so much? I will allow myself to draw this conclusion because this was how it was presented to me. As I sat there contemplating the events of the day and everything that has happened in my life for me to be in this exact spot, a cool summer evening on the San Diego coast. God put it right in front of me, fruit. It was a beautiful and gracious reminder from a good and loving Father.
Over the years, I’ve become better in my preparation. My biggest challenge is obedience, the key to success in my spiritual journey. What helps me is remembering that God is, and I’m trying, so don’t fight Him. Work with Him, and of course, don’t suck.