The Navy SEALs continue to fascinate me, two of my blogs have been about them in the past (please see June 1, 2017 and November 2015). Who knows everything they secretly accomplish behind the scenes and what sacrifices they pay? Part of me wants to become one – without becoming one. Many leadership books and articles about them have come across my path. I bought a SEAL t-shirt at a speaking engagement and frequently wear it in public. As of today, no one has asked me if I’m a current or former SEAL. For $19.95, I purchased an online course called “The Navy SEAL 30 Day Mental Toughness Challenge.” So far I’m 67 days into it – and still haven’t finished.
One day on a walk, I was contemplating if there was some type of equivalent to the Navy SEALs in the spiritual realm? A way to go deeper in our relationship with God? We know the obvious ways of studying the Bible, praying, going to church, serving, giving, and sharing our faith with others. Is there something more? After extensive searching and reflection – I created an acronym for SEALS:
Eating Less (or Fasting)
Leisure (or a Sabbath Day)
Let’s break down each one of them. Please don’t attempt all of these at once.
- Silence – Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46: 10) It is incredibly difficult to sit still and do nothing. Boredom has become a thing of the past. Multiple studies show that we look at our phones over 100 times per day! Psychiatrists are now treating people of all ages with the clinical diagnosis of Screen Addiction, Hypertexting, Social Isolation, and Facebook Depression (from the book Glow Kids). One remedy? How about a daily walk (and leave your phone)? C.S. Lewis believed if physically capable, everyone should take a walk every day. Maybe start small, 3 out of 7 days. It is a chance to think freely, create, dream, pray, vent, admire the outdoors, and be thankful. If nothing else, you’ll be a hero in your dog’s eyes.
- Eating Less (or Fasting) – I denied myself by fasting for them. (Psalm 35:13) One common theme found throughout the Bible is that when people were serious about praying, fasting was accompanied with it. This is not a way to “twist God’s arm” – but a way to humble ourselves, dedicate that eating time to God, and to get a little bit uncomfortable. Confession time – I struggle big time with this one. My four basic food groups are Mexican, Italian, BBQ, and Chocolate. Again, start small. Maybe miss one meal during the week. Spend that time with God instead.
- Alertness – Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. (1 Peter 5: 8,9) This one speaks for itself – having discernment about what is really going on around you. Jon Gordon states that “the narrative of the universe is the tale of good vs. evil.” Just look at all of the popular stories and movies with this theme (Star Wars, Harry Potter, Superheroes, Disney films). In the Old Testament, it is said that from the tribe of Issachar, “All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take” (1 Chronicles 12: 32). We can pray to God for true insight, and ask Him for the eyes to see beyond the physical into the invisible realm.
- Leisure (or a Sabbath day) – Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. (Exodus 20: 8) This can be a fun one if we allow it! A day off of pleasure, resting, and leisure – and it doesn’t have to be Sunday! Two great books on this subject are Sabbath by Dan Allender and Addicted To Busy by Brady Boyd. Allender states: “The Sabbath is an invitation to enter delight. The Sabbath, when experienced as God intended, is the best day of our lives. Without question or thought, it is the best day of the week. It is the day we anticipate.” Do we have anything that remotely resembles that in our fast-paced, schedule packed, and screen driven lives? This one is easy – pick one day of the week, every week. Schedule nothing – or, incredibly fun activities that will rejuvenate and connect you and your family.
- Suffering – Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later. (Romans 8: 18) This is the toughest and probably the least popular one. The other 4 we have a choice in the matter. Christine Caine states, “Trials and tribulations don’t check with your schedule.” Suffering is extremely personalized – from the teenager being bullied – to the citizen of China who belongs to an underground church and fears for his life. SEALs get so tough because of their intense, painful, and extremely uncomfortable training. In a similar way, we grow in character and strength – through struggles, hassles, disappointments, tragedy, pain, and loss. The apostle Paul reassures that we’re not alone: But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. (Romans 8:17)
A Navy SEAL spends nearly every day of their career focusing on getting 1% better than the day before – what would happen if we did the same?
P.S. There is so much more material on these topics – please let me know in Comments if you’d perhaps be interested in reading a book regarding this subject sometime in the future 🙂