Special Forces Association
Chapter XXIII - 23
Finishing Well
(Leaning from the Tape)

I can still see it in my mind’s eye.  My top cross country runner, undefeated all season, beaten in the district finals by a competitor he had beaten earlier who, unknowingly, came from behind and leaned past him into the tape to literally beat him by inches.  My runner had run well but finished poorly.  Like most runners, he ran well but focused on the finish line instead of beyond the line so eased up before the end of the run rather than hitting the finish line at full speed.  Many of us are living our lives in the same way- running much of life well but finishing poorly.  Go to any Special Forces gathering or S.F. Convention and you would never guess that these soldiers were once running missions deep behind enemy lines or maxing the P.T. test, or sneaking and peeking in places like Afghanistan, the Philippines, Iraq, or the jungles of Central and South America.

Some time ago I heard from one of my old NCO’s about the death or a teammate.  He had been a terrific SF soldier but died estranged from his family, an alcoholic.  He ran well but finished poorly.  We could say the same thing about General George Custer.  He had a terrific run during the Civil War but finished poorly at great cost to himself and the soldiers he commanded in battle.

Looking at the Scriptures we see good and bad examples.  Moses ran well but inconsistently.  He led the Israelites out of bondage to the Promised Land but, because of disobedience, didn’t make it in himself.  The prophet Samuel did a good job of judging Israel, but spent so much time on the job that he neglected his family, especially his sons who turned out bad.  Too many TDY”s and deployments without balancing his job and family.  Good run – bad finish.

On the other hand, we see the thief on the cross dying alongside Jesus.  He ran his life poorly but finished well as he heard the words of Jesus, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”  The other thief, unrepentant to the end, lived poorly, died poorly, and is left with an eternity separated from the Living God.  We also see the Apostle Peter, faithful to the end after a few bad starts, crucified upside down - unwilling to the end to deny his faith.

From a Special Forces perspective you are judged good or bad, successful or a failure by whether or not you complete your mission.  You can go though “Isolation”, do a great brief back, infiltrate into the AO undetected in the dead of night after a gut wrenching rock and roll nap of the earth flight, and reach your target undetected but if you don’t knock it out, or snatch your prisoner, or gather the Intel you were inserted for – your mission was a failure.

Jesus Christ not only ran well, but He finished well and someday He’s coming back for those who’ve enlisted into His ranks.  I pray that each of you, regardless of how you’ve lived your lives in the past, will join up and at least finish well.  Since all of life, like any race, has a beginning and an ending, the question remains:  “How will you finish the race – leaning into the tape, a winner, or a loser who took his eyes off the point beyond the finish line?”

Chaplain Col. Vahan Sipantzi
26972 Lower Pleasant Ridge Rd.
Wilder, ID  83676
(208) 482-7495