Special Forces Association
Chapter XXIII - 23

Life is full of obstacles. Some see obstacles as an impossible roadblock. Others see them as a challenge to be overcome, a problem to be solved, a goal to be achieved like getting though the Selection Phase.

Not long ago I watched one of my sons compete in the Coeur D’ Alene Ironman. A 2.4 mile swim, 112 miles bike ride and a 26.2 mile marathon. By the time he started the marathon the summer temperature had dropped to 45 degrees with a cold, driving rain. The runners were freezing as was I in 3 T-shirts, a sweatshirt, and my army Gore-Tex jacket, along with his family handing out cups of Gatorade, cola, and water as a volunteer. The runners faced an obstacle that most overcame by sheer will and exertion.

The Rangers faced the cliffs and gunfire on Normandy’s beaches but found a way to fulfill their mission where others might have thrown in the towel and headed back out to the ships.

Communism and Nazism saw the Christian church as an obstacle because it showed the lie and immorality of both systems. It’s still evident in North Korea and China today where Christians are denied the freedom to worship and are imprisoned or killed for their Faith.

I watched Hamburger Hill in Vietnam lowered by repeated bombing and multiple battalions of artillery firing time on target (TOT). Shear determination and courage saw the young soldiers from the 101st. overcome a determined enemy. Our troops never gave up even though the NVA were reading our radio traffic thanks to the Walker brothers selling out our secret codes to the enemy for money.

The necessity of rapid movement over rough terrain in Afghanistan saw the rebirth of the cavalry charge as Special Forces soldiers led their Northern Alliance comrades on horseback into battle against the Taliban.

The attempts to rescue “Bat 21” after his plane was shot down in North Vietnam cost the lives of nine of his rescuers and countless NVA but the effort to save him went on until they succeeded in bringing him out alive.

The Bible is full of people facing obstacles. In each case they overcame them either by teaming up with the God of the Bible or by putting their faith in Him. Young David ran toward the battle line while the rest of Israel’s army ran away rather than face the 9’6” tall giant Goliath. Trusting God completely and using long-range tactics David killed the giant with a single head shot much as the Navy seals did recently with the Somali pirates. David, trusting in God killed the bear, the lion, and the giant.

Samson trusted in his own strength and fell prey to Delilah’s whining words and sensuous attributes. Sightless, being ridiculed by his captors, but reunited with God he overcame the obstacles of blindness and chains, and destroyed more of his enemies (over 3000) in one last act of strength than he had in his short, but troubling, life.

For all of us the ultimate obstacle is DEATH. Everything else diminishes in size. None of us, regardless of rank, position, wealth, strength, number of free falls, badges, good deeds, generosity or IQ can overcome it on our own. It’s the ultimate impenetrable minefield we must all pass through before we stand before God. But, thank God, there is a WAY through the minefield into an eternity spent in God’s presence. That “WAY” and Only that “Way” is Jesus Christ who, as witnessed by the empty tomb, defeated “DEATH”. Only He can lead us through to eternal life. He calls to each of us as we face the obstacles of life, “FOLLOW ME!” Will you?

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