I missed last weekend’s post. Truth be told I was standing in waist-deep swamp water, staring into the open mouth of a Georgian Alligator, wondering (quite fearfully) what the heck I was doing.
“I should be in a climate controlled writing studio.”
But I wasn’t. I wasn’t on my bike either. I was doing land navigation. (land being a loose term, considering there wasn’t much). I was in an Army competition for the EIB: Expert Infantryman Badge.
Physical Fitness Test, Day and Night Land Navigation, Weapons, Basic Tasks, 12 Mile Walk with a 35# pack.
I made it through the PT test, and made it to land navigation. I had to find 3 marked points in 2 hours using my map and compass. It’s difficult to not get lost in dense forest. Add wild hogs, snakes, thorns, gators, and swamp and you have yourself a really nice afternoon. But, I had to do it. So I started.
30 Minutes goes by…BAM…first point found. Another 30 mins…BAM second point found. Another 45 minutes goes by and….
I can’t find my 3rd point anywhere, I look all around and cannot find this. I walk in circles and squares muttering curses at myself.
God what are you trying to teach me right now ? Do you want me to fail? What do you want from me? There’s no way I’ll finish this in time, I may as well turn around and surrender.
That’s what I did. Turned around and started making my way back to the start area. And there was my last point, 50 meters away. I made it. God needed my surrender before he could allow me to be successful.
I had all the tools to do this: compass, protractor, map, point, experience, and determination. But this was not enough. I had no idea where I was. This is typical in my life, I feel like I have what it takes to do anything on my own.
I know what I’m doing. I know where I’m going. Yeah right.
But God wants us to surrender, which we will only do when we’re lost. He uses our disappointments to call on us. I passed day and night land navigation.
Then I failed the weapons tasks. I was eliminated from the competition. Embarrassed and disappointed in myself.
In his new book Crash the Chatterbox, Steven Furtick describes disappointment as “the gap between what we expect and what we experience.”
Read that again.
We all know the feeling. It’s usually deep and wide. We always fill the gap with something. The gap doesn’t shape us, but what we fill this gap with does.
Do you fill your gap with anger? Alcohol? Money? Prayer? Adultery? Food? Smartphones? Biking?
I remember when my friend Jonah was eaten by the fish of disappointment. (Remember, when he felt the gap he surrendered and asked to be thrown overboard.) And there, in the slimy belly of disappointment, he filled his gap with prayer.
I’m sure there were plenty of fish guts in there to accompany him, but he prayed so much that he filled this fish with a critical amount of CO2. 3,2,1 blastoff. He shot right out onto the shore so he could get his 3rd land nav point and get his EIB.
Two questions that follow this failure: What went totally right with my experience of failing? Or better, was this experience more valuable as a failure than it would have been as a success? I certainly learn more in the belly of disappointment, when I fill that fish with the right thing.
We’re all going to fail again. Oh, and probably again. Brothers, fill the belly with what is good!
You are what you eat. And what you get eaten by.