Tuesday, February 23, 2010

No More Average Joe!

A few days ago, I stumbled across a program that I found irresistible. It’s called “Fight Science” and for me it was a perfect blend of action, technology and fun. In the episode that grabbed my attention, the Fight Science hosts were setting up challenges designed to test the breaking points of US Special Operators in their various fields of expertise. They had assembled a 3 operator team that consisted of an Air Force F-16 Pilot, A US Army Ranger, A Marine Scout Sniper, and a US Navy SEAL. Their goals were to disorient theF-16 pilot to the point of losing his focus and not being able to fly, to fatigue the Ranger by exposing him to simulated extreme altitudes, to distract the Marine Scout Sniper with extremes of hot and cold, and by immersing him in a tank with thousands of insects, and to drown the SEAL by binding his hands and feet while weighing him down with extra weight.

In each case, the Special operators were placed in extreme situations and emerged triumphant. The pilot never lost his lunch, the Sniper never lost his cool, they couldn’t exhaust the Ranger and they couldn’t drown the SEAL! Each of the Special Operators made their amazing tasks look easy - So easy that one was tempted to think, “I could do THAT!”

As if they could read minds, it was at this point that the FS team introduced a “special guest”. A fellow we’ll call “Average Joe.” Average Joe was - well - average. Average height, average weight, average smarts and average ability. Nothing special. Average Joe was just a regular guy, willing to attempt some extraordinary tasks. As you might imagine, Joe didn’t fare as well as the experts when he attempted their grueling tests. Joe lost his lunch during the flight simulation, wouldn’t even attempt the Ranger’s test, couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat as a marksman, and started to drown before his feet touched the bottom of the diving tank! It was quite a spectacle. The Fight Science hosts summed up A. Joe’s problems like this: Joe was ill prepared and had not pursued proper training.

That truth struck me as pertinent to the ups and downs of life all people face at one time or another. We’re often confronted with extreme difficulties that we fail to negotiate with success or excellence because we’re unprepared for adversity or unpracticed in our spiritual disciplines. The Special Operators succeeded in extreme conditions because they’re special, certainly, but even more so because they were mentally prepared and skillfully practiced. 2 Timothy 2:15 challenges Christians to not be content with just an “Average Joe” spiritual life but to…”Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” We are not to be content with going through the motions of Christian ritual which only provide external polish without internal transformation. Instead, we should be devoted to the exercise of Christian disciplines such as daily prayer, a deep study of the Bible and spending time with other Christians for encouragement, accountability and support. The regular and rigorous exercise of these disciplines help us to be prepared for times of testing and trouble when our trials seem to turn us every which way but loose, give us no room to breathe and even seem to try to sink us. When we prepare ourselves for difficult days by training ourselves in the ways of God, we are better able to cope, adapt and ultimately overcome in Christ Who promises that we can be more than over-comers if we don’t give up the Good Fight.

Are you spiritually training and preparing for the trials you will face like a Special Operator or are you “coasting and ghosting,” hoping that you’ll make it on “a wing and a prayer” when trouble comes you way. I pray that you’ll start seriously preparing today, so that when your times of testing come – and they will come - you won’t find yourself standing in your own strength as a battered and confused “Average Joe” but instead, you’ll be standing in the Lord’s strength well-prepared and ready to seize the moment with faith, hope and love. Go Joe!! Until next time…


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