Every summer my entire family–grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, everyone–goes on vacation to Coronado Island off the coast of San Diego. The beach is beautiful, the weather is amazing, and the best part is relaxing with the whole family. One morning, my mom and I decided to go for a run on the beach. That year there were huge sand dunes scattered along the beach. Each were about 5-8 feet tall and maybe 6 feet wide. We had no clue why they had randomly popped up this summer, but we ran around them regardless.
We ran along the water as the sun rose on the horizon (think Lion King-“Circle of Life” kind of stuff). It was magnificent and beautiful. All the sudden, we hear a stampede behind us and loud chanting. Startled, we looked to see what the noise was coming from. We discovered a group of Navy Seals running straight towards us (again, think Lion King). Coronado Island houses a large Naval base. It is not uncommon to see them going through rigorous training late at night or early in the morning. They caught up to us very quickly. We like to brag that we “ran with the Navy Seals” like super fit, cool people. Before we knew it, they sped passed us without any hesitation or difficulty. We were not “running with the Navy Seals” for very long! Now that they were in front of us, we got to observe their training methods as we ran. We noticed several of the Navy Seals were carrying heavy loads on their backs and shoulders. Some carried small boats, some carried sandbags, others even carried fellow Navy Seals! These specific Seals seemed especially exhausted, sweating profusely and breathing heavily. We also noticed the Navy Seals did not avoid the mountainous sand dunes like we did. They ran full speed up and over them without skipping a beat, whether they carried heavy loads or not.
We watched in amazement. We were running at a slower speed, without heavy loads on our backs, and avoiding all obstacles. Yet, we seemed even more exhausted than most of them. Their military leader (I am so sorry, I am not familiar with the proper term and I do not want to mess it up…so I will just refer to this person as the “military leader”) was leading their chant. He would start by yelling, “Did you stop running?” They would reply, “We did not stop running.” He would chant again, “Did you stop running? I believe you stopped running.” They would chant in reply, “We did not stop running.” Finally, the military leader would chant, “Will you ever stop running?” And in perfect unison, they replied, “We did not stop running. We will NEVER stop running.”
I could not help but shed a few tears watching this in the sunrise of the beautiful beach. In life, we are constantly running. Sometimes we are carrying heavy loads. Sometimes we might feel like we are even carrying the burdens other people on our shoulders. Sometimes we feel like we are carrying more than we can handle, all while running through difficult obstacles. Everyday we are tempted to give up. We can feel like stopping, dropping our burdens on the floor, and letting the tide wash us away forever. Unfortunately, we do not always have the option to simply run around our trials and obstacles. We do not always have the choice between running vigorously with a heavy load, or a peaceful walk on the beach. I do not know if a peaceful walk on the beach through life is even possible. We will hear the constant chanting of the world–asking us if we have ever stopped running and if we will ever just give up. We have a responsibility to ourselves to respond, “We did not stop running. We will NEVER stop running.” And to keep our word, and never break that promise. We cannot stop running. The moment we give up the fight against trial, against the adversary, against hate, against negativity, against fear, is the moment we give up on ourselves and our eternal happiness. Do not let that happen. If you are here now, you have never truly given up. Promise yourself that you NEVER will. Promise to keep that promise…and promise to keep that promise.
After the Navy Seals finished their run, they sat and relaxed in the shallow water of the beach. The look of relief on their faces was obvious to anyone watching. For a few minutes they talked and laughed like it was all worth it. They did not at all seem like they regretted their decision to join the Navy. They did not at all seem like their training was too hard for them to handle, at least not while they rested in the water after they finished. They probably knew their intense training was going to prepare them for whatever they might need to accomplish later. No matter how hard we feel our life is, God never gives us ‘training’ that we can’t handle. It sucks, but you keep running up and over obstacles without hesitation. Before you know it, you will find yourself relaxing in the cool water and realize that it was all worth it.
P.S. This blog post is dedicated to my grandma and grandpa, who helped make this blog a reality. Thank you. I love you guys so much.