Full text of former US Navy SEAL Chad Williams’ speech titled “I’ll Die Before I Quit” .
Chad Williams – Former U.S. Navy SEAL
Thank you. So who’s Bob?
Real excited to be here with you guys this morning. Thank you for having me out and my friend Don Billets. You know, we’ve got this big event coming up March 6 next year Harvest America and I’ll be getting into that a little bit.
But as you guys know, I’m a former US Navy SEAL. I imagine most of you guys know what SEALS are. Typically I have to explain to the women one time, there was one that actually asked me, she goes, so do you work at SeaWorld or something? And it’s like, no.
Maybe you guys didn’t know this, but SEAL is actually an acronym that stands for our areas of operation: SEA, AIR and LAND. And I think most people pretty surprised to find out after Bin Laden that NAVY SEALS are operating, you know, on land, they expect us to stick to waterborne operations.
So remember a lot of people kind of scratching their heads asking like what is there a puddle in Pakistan, these guys came crawling out of or something and we’re on land to kind of give you guys an idea of what my team was doing on my last deployment.
I was out in Iraq and we were tasked with working with the Iraqi special operation forces and one of our goals while we’re over there is to hunt down men that make suicide vests and those roadside bombs IEDs. And we wanted to train the ISOF how to do this job themselves. And so it kind of makes sense.
You want to pull out of a place like Iraq, well, you got to teach up their own country men, their own special operation forces, how to do the work.
And so if you can imagine a whole deployment had gone by pretty good, we bagged and gagged a lot of bad dudes. And really the best way to operate and train these guys is to go out and fight side by side with them. And we’re coming up on what look like just enough time on the calendar to do maybe one more operation.
So we decided let’s make this final operation, a sort of graduation operation. We’ll let the ISOF plan the whole thing from the ground up. And we’ll be there with them just in case things hit the fan. So they start from scratch. They go out in the street, they get a sorts of information that tells them about a man that’s an Iraqi policeman by day but at night back home, he’s one of these bomb makers.
And to kind of give you an idea of the type of character that makes these suicide vests, for instance, you know, oftentimes they’re not the ones that want to wear it themselves. In fact, they have such a difficult time finding somebody else to put one on that one instance over there, they took two mentally handicapped women strap these vests onto them, and they shove them off into a crowded marketplace and watch from a distance as they set it off with the remote, like cowards, killing these women and just so many more.
So just kind of gives you an idea of the type of scumbags we’re going for here. But we’ve got this guy’s number, the ISOF, they’ve got this whole plan, where he lives, how they want to approach the house, get in, extract and they’re presenting all these things to us. And they say one other thing though.
They said when we operate with you SEALs, we see that we get shot at more than you guys do. And we think we figured out why. All right. Oh, yeah. What is it? And they’re convinced that it was just merely the color of our uniforms. They say it’s the uniforms; like really…
So they’re saying we’re wondering if you’d be willing to maybe take off your American colored uniforms for this final operation. We’ve got a pile of ISOF uniforms you guys could put on.
So okay let’s get this straight, you want us to get shot at more with you and they’re like yes, we said fine.
So picture this, needless to say, you know my dark complexion start growing out a little facial hair get these guys uniforms, I blended just fine with these fellas over there.
In fact, my wife’s trying to motivate me to shave by letting me know it’s time to cut it down because I look like I belong in Bin Laden’s family or something.
So here we go blended in with these guys. This is the final operation and I happen to be standing up in the Humvee, the turret that night behind the 50 caliber machine gun, that’s the showstopper. I remember I’ve got my night vision goggles on looking through my green little world. I got my weapon, headspace and time ready to go, kind of going over this in my mind where this guy lives, how we’re going to get him, this is business as usual.
But there’s one other unique I know that popped into my head. I couldn’t help but you know, realize that I know this is the final operation, which means just a matter of days from now, I know I’m going to be back home in Huntington Beach. California surfing in the ocean lobster dive in.
But what we didn’t know about that night was that we were actually being set up the entire time to get thrown into a real nasty ambush. We’re really about to get into the worst circumstances we’d been in on this entire deployment as we’re getting into about for our lives.
Now, before I hit on what happened that night, I want to kind of back step a little bit and share with you guys a little bit of my road to becoming a SEAL.
Road To Becoming A SEAL
You know, fresh out of high school, going to the local community college. I didn’t have any real big plans. I’m failing all my classes really just because I’m not attending. I’m just ditching partying and surfing all the time. And I’m pulling into the parking lot at the end of the year, it’s time to take finals. And it just hits me like a ton of bricks like wow, I’m turning out to be a loser.
I mean, the kind of guy that no young man wants to be. When you’re young, you get told you could do anything right be a pro ballplayer or whatever, and I’m thinking it’s time to do something here.
So I’m thinking what am I doing with my life. All I know is I want to do something big. I want to achieve something, go for something great. I want some identity and so I start thinking, what is that and I think I come up with the perfect plan sitting there in my truck about to go to class. I go and I’m going to do.
I’m going to go become an Alaskan crab fisherman. Yeah. Deadliest Catch. By far one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. I thought there’s some bragging rights in that right there and then this other idea pops in my head no, wait a minute, why can’t I go join the military and be a part of the most elite, go through that most difficult grueling military training?
I know what I want to be: I want to be a NAVY SEAL.
And so right there school parking lot about to take finals I just decide that’s how I’m going to do with my life. I’m going to be a NAVY SEAL.
So my first order of business is this: I don’t gotta go to class anymore because I’m going to be frogman, start my truck up and I left the school.
Set the guy, let my dad know some bad news. And good news is I put it. So I let them know what’s going on failing all these classes. Chad, what’s the good news?
Glad you asked dad. It’s okay. I got a plan. I’m going to be a NAVY SEAL, and he’s looking at me and you know, here comes my dad the voice of reason. He’s kind of watched the track record of my life.
And he’s like Chad, joining the military is not like anything you’ve ever done in the past. When you decide you’re over it, you could just stop it. It’s not like playing ball or skateboarding or just going to the local community college. If you join the military for some reason you find out it’s not for you, suppose you quit SEAL training, you can’t just get out because you know what’s going to happen to you. You’re going to find yourself stuck in the military, chip and paying off some boat in Japan.
I can’t argue with this logic. I don’t have the greatest track record, but I knew I was determined: I’m dying before I quit. And so what do I do. So a typical young father son relationship I just go storming out of there whatever Dad, you know.
Meanwhile, I’m preparing. I’m doing the running the swimming pulps, push ups everything running past the house like I’m little rocky just Dench, don’t Denton, dad’s looking out the window and calls me back up one day, he says do you really want to do this? You want to be a SEAL? Like yeah, Dad, I want to be a SEAL.
He goes great. I set up a workout for you with the Navy SEAL, check out my computer screen and I never forget looking over at his computer and reading this little one liner in an email. It says can Chad come out and play tomorrow? Play? My dad you don’t know any Navy SEALs, some guy you met off the internet wants to play with me and you’re setting this up and because he’s a SEAL, Chad, I’m like, very skeptical.
Okay, you know, well, there’s more of a conversation my dad had with this Navy SEAL by the name of Scott Helvenston that I didn’t know at the time. I got the backstory later, but it’ll do you guys some good to know it now.
He spent some time on the phone with Scott. He says, hey, look, my son. He wants to be a NAVY SEAL. He’s making the biggest mistake of his life because he has no idea what he’s getting himself involved in. And so I just want to know would you do me a big favor, meet up with my son and I’m asking you to crush him, just bury him. Beat this desire becoming a SEAL out of him.
So Scott, apparently after thinking about it for a while, shoots off this email, can Chad come out and play tomorrow. So off I go. It’s Oceanside California meeting up with this Navy Seal Beach parking lot. He spots me right away. You Chad. Yes, sir. All right, Baba. I was Baba from that point forward. Come on out here.
This guy’s got me doing some pull ups and push ups and whatnot, not that difficult sends me off on a run. He says he’s going to catch up after about 15 minutes yet some gear he wanted to clean up back at the truck. So off I go. 15 minutes into this run. I’m looking back. All I know, as I’m running out into the wetlands away from civilization, people getting fewer and fewer.
And I’m thinking where’s this NAVY SEAL and I start thinking he’s not going to catch me. And I start cranking up the speed and I’m just thinking of all the buddies I’m going to be bragging to this Navy SEAL couldn’t catch me on a run.
As I’m looking back. It’s just like that movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator two. There’s a scene in the movie where the bad guy called the T-1000 can morph into these night pants and chase down a moving vehicle. Well that’s the Navy SEAL like the T-1000 in these night pants coming down this trail.
Nothing I could do to keep the distance, he just closes this gap, gets right up to where I am. I’m going so fast. I mean, I don’t have time to spit because I’m breathing so hard. Well he just stops and turns around on a dime and I never saw what was coming next, I was greeted by his fist, just impaling my stomach. I’m clothesline going for a ride. My feet come off the ground.
I remember the feeling of the wind being knocked out of me before my back even hit the ground. And this poof of dirt up all around me and then put yourself in my shoes for a moment here. Remember at the time, all I knew was this: some guy my dad met up the internet now I’m thinking child predator for sure. He’s jumping on top of me. We’re in the wetlands, there’s nobody around he’s just ragdoll me in the ground threads in my shirt, just ripping spit line out of his mouth. He’s screaming, going ballistic.
But then I hear these words. He says you want to be a NAVY SEAL, you better stay three paces behind me. And that’s when it clicked. I mean, that’s when it hit me that this is it. This is for real, that if I quit right now I knew if I quit in this moment, I will forever be a quitter.
The way I respond right now is going to affect the trajectory of the rest of my life. And so I just reaffirm in my mind I’m dying before I quit. So he gets up off me says three paces, I’m going after him. This went on for a handful of miles, he continues to turn around, smash me down, get back up, going after him.
Finally, we get to this point miles down the trail where he circles up and he’s walking back and forth and he looks like one of these UFC MMA cage fighters just ready to get it on with the guy across from him. And I don’t really want to project him, you know that I’m willing to fight him at all. I’m like this 19 year old skater punk kid. So I’m thinking in my mind, all right, Chad, no direct contact with this psycho. Just use your peripherals. Don’t send him off.
He breaks this awkward tension by asking me says hey, if we would have gone another mile or two, would you have stayed with me? And that’s why it’s told Scott, I’ll die before I quit. And he just loosens up and he goes great. You want to meet up again for another workout tomorrow.
First thing is are we gonna talk about the flashback you had on the trail there, I mean, you went psycho man. He didn’t want to discuss it and so I am…all right.
And so I am going back home and at first feeling humiliated, dragging my feet I got beat up like I’d never been beat up before but then it hits me: hey, I made through a SEAL workout. I could do this again tomorrow. I could do it again the next day. So I kind of go from this attitude of dragging my feet till I am excited. Clicking my heels.
Well, my dad can’t wait to find out things went. So as I’m reaching for that front door, he’s already pulling it open. He goes: How did it go?
No, dad, I’m going to be a NAVY SEAL.
He gets on the phone with Scott. We all have lunch together one day; they fill me in on just this whole you know, background going on and goes what is going on. I wanted you to meet up with my son to crush him. He comes home, he wants to be a seal more now than ever.
And apparently Scott told him Look, I gave it a go. And I think your son might have what it takes. And if you don’t mind, I’d like to start meeting up with him.
So from that day forward, I met up with this NAVY SEAL, Scott Helvenston, virtually every single day, and I went from just being Bubba to eventually I became Jr. He was like a second father to me. And Scott is no ordinary Navy SEAL, ever worse that’s a thing. This guy holds all kinds of records.
Here’s some of them. He’s the youngest man to have ever made it through SEAL training. And I’ll just set that up by saying he grew up in over 27 different foster homes. So the military took him at a very early age, he finished, qualified SEAL training by the time he was 17 years old. That’s the record. Nobody ever beat that record.
He’s also a world champion pentathlete. So you’ve heard of the triathlon three events. Imagine five events World Champion status. On top of that he’s the fastest Navy Seal on the SEAL training obstacle course.
So to kind of put that in perspective, there’s an obstacle course in Southern California, Coronado, San Diego, every single Navy Seal that ever was is or will be must go through this obstacle course. We get timed on it; you go through it hundreds of times. There’s not a SEAL on the face of this planet that can beat this Navy SEAL going through an obstacle course.
And if that doesn’t do it for you, here’s one more kind of funny one. I remember Scott and I were going to go do some mountain climbing one day.
All right, Junior, want to go do some mountain climbing?
Yes, Scott, I’d never been mountain climbing.
So I remember trying to really burn the moment the memory into my brain; ever done that kind of looking around I don’t want to forget this, so you are capturing it.
And so I remember in my capture being passenger seat looking over at this dude that I just idolized, his arms up there on the wheel. I’m thinking man I will my arms would be like Scott’s one day, thinking weird mental pictures…. Scott’s looking over me and starts telling me about a TV program he was on one time called Man Versus Beast.
And what it was he explains it to me as these Hollywood producers take a wild animal beast on this TV program. And put them up against an athlete in a competition a strength or speed. And on this show every single time hands down, beast wins, human looks like a fool.
Well, Scott gets invited go up on this program, they say, Hey, we hear you’re something special. We want to know you want to go up against the beast on Man versus Beast.
Scott, you know, he’s never the kind of guy to back down. They wanted to go against a chimpanzee through an obstacle course. And so he goes, I’ll race the monkey. And so he shows up. You could probably see where this is going.
They’ve got all the obstacles, the high wall, the cargo net, the ropes, the irony of it all is that by the time they got to those monkey bars, Scott’s pulling ahead of this monkey. And that’s the other record. He’s the only man to beat the beast on this TV program, Man versus Beast.
And I get to spend almost every day with this guy as he’s preparing me, training me up getting me ready to go through SEAL training. But our time was coming to a close. You know, I signed up I’ve got a date. It said I’m going to be shipping out and Scott, he took an opportunity, he put it to go overseas again. He says you know who knows, Junior, perhaps I can make a difference. He’s very patriotic, cares not only about freedom as we know it here, but actually very concerned on his heart, in his mind, the freedom of children just caught in the midst of it on the Middle East. He’s one of those people that really wants to make a difference.
And so he decides to take this opportunity. And so he actually is rolling out before I roll out for boot camp. And he’s on the phone with me saying, our junior about to go do this thing referring to going to Iraq, and he says, I just want you to know something I’ve never told anybody that I’ve ever trained before. He says, I know you’re going to make it through SEAL training.
And to hear those words from Scott, I can’t tell you just all the confidence that gave me, I mean, that was as good as I knew I was going to make it then. And so he’s reminding me the timeline of things that he’s only going to be gone a couple months. I’m about to do this Navy boot camp, which is about a couple months and you know, then I’d go through Navy A school and get my opportunity to go through SEAL training. And he says, I’m going to be back in time we’re going to see and make it through.
And so we said goodbye, Scott’s gone now and I’m about to go, got a handful of days left before I go. So I figured if I can’t work out with my mentor in person, you know next best thing is he’s recorded some workouts for me to do and you know on video whatever and I’ll throw this in and see what we got.
Well, I’m turning on the television one morning on the screen as it pops up Scott’s face is there on the screen. It’s a picture of him smiling. And the first thought that entered my brain was Scott didn’t let me know he’s going to be on TV or something. Again, I’m trying to figure out this picture from smiling and then I see in the lower third where it says his birthday followed by dash and it says March 31st 2004.
And before I could really process what that meant, I didn’t really have to because this still image of Scott changes to video footage. And very similar to what ISIS is doing today with the beheadings or the burning the Jordanian pilot is they videotape this stuff, premeditated and they send the footage around. This switches to a screen where I’m looking at a guy that was like a second father to me. I mean those arms I got a mental picture of to this day in my mind as silly it is.
I’m looking at him laying in the street in Fallujah, Iraq, lifeless, his vehicles burning in the background. It was a premeditated ambush. These guys had videotaped as they’re just mutilating him and three other Americans. They’re beating and wailing with the sticks and rods and they find rope wrapping around his legs, dragging them through the streets, and just parading him and three other Americans around hanging them upside down from the Euphrates River Bridge and setting them on fire. And chanting in Arabic on the screen: Fallujah is the graveyard of Americans just over and over.
And, you know, to this day, I don’t have the words to describe to you just what was going on inside of me as I’m seeing all of this. I mean, I went through all of the emotions and just this isn’t real. It’s fake, he had to fake his death because he’s got something top secret like ..but I knew that’s Scott.
And so there’s no denying that. And so needless to say, it changed me big time as a human being. One of the things was, you know, I wanted to be a SEAL for I guess you could say sort of narcissistic reasons in the very beginning. It was I want identity, I want to do this for me.
But I was beginning to learn that there’s a whole lot more to this. And one of the big motivations was, I want to do this in honor memory of Scott.
And so one of the things I did when I got to seal training, they let you write some motivating things on the inside of your hat. So I had family and you know, my girlfriend’s name at the time, is my wife now and, and Scott Helvenston. He was a big motivation for me to make it through.
And so I make it through Navy boot camp, and I get my shot at SEAL training. And the SEAL training… it is by far I think the most difficult military training there is in the world, hands down.
To kind of give you guys an idea of how tough it is. I’ll share this one thing with you. I didn’t write about it in my book. It’s not in any SEAL book. It’s not any SEAL movie. It’s the most difficult day of SEAL training. But I figured a setting like this I could share a little something exclusive with you guys.
And so it’s the day before you graduate. See the very first day of training when you show up these instructors, among other things, the torture that goes on, they give you an animal to take care of a dog. And you might think that sounds kind of cool, but the truth is that the last thing you ever want to deal with at the end of a very long day of training is some whiny poopy pink dog keeping you up all night this little puppy is like a little torture device.
And the instructors know the sleep deprivation this animal will put you through, but you know that saying man’s best friend, I mean, it’s true. You know, as you’re proceeding through training, making it to graduation. I mean, this little dog, your little ally, your swim, but it’s always there by your side begins to kind of grow on you.
My dog’s name was Taco, come on, Taco right little guy. And then like I said, the most difficult day of training is day before you graduate. In order to demonstrate as a Navy Seal, you are prepared. If this is what’s required of you to take life you have to take this dog that you’ve loved and nurtured with your own bare hands. You have to turn and break its neck.
I’m just playing with you guys… you know kill a dog in SEAL training. No. You actually do it to a cat. So, yeah.
All right. The truth is they don’t give you an animal in SEAL training, okay? That’s why it’s not in any book or any movie.
All right let me be genuine. So just to be clear, you don’t need to be gone contacting PETA or anything like that, we don’t torture animals in SEAL training.
The most difficult part of training it’s called Hell Week. This is for real. Hell Week is five and a half days long. In a nutshell five and a half days long, you get four hours of sleep. That’s not per night. That’s a grand total four hours of sleep in the next five and a half days.
From the moment Hell Week begins, these instructors are getting you as cold as they can. You know that air was pretty cold this morning. Imagine the first thing you’re waking up to is a hose just spraying you down and that cold air and that cold water you begin to shiver.
And this shivering turns into what they call jackhammering, because you look like you’re hanging on to a jackhammer, as you’re performing push ups and pull ups and sit ups into the thousands, you’ve got the beach sand, rubbing and grinding in all the unfriendly places, then they send you out to the surf zone to perform what I think is really the worst part of SEAL training personally is what I felt. It’s called surf tortures. And you do this many times.
Surf torture iswhere you lay down in the surf zone, and very similar to how it sounds, it is torture in that surf zone. As you link arms with your buddies, the water so cold it takes your breath away. I mean, guys are going right into the hypothermia. And these instructors say we’re not letting any of you out of the water, you’re not wearing a wetsuit, not letting any of you out of the water. So you give up and quit.
And these are some pretty tough dudes that showed up to go through SEAL training. There’s already a big vetting process. You make it through and all these guys have already declared I’m dying before I quit. And so could you imagine the battle of wills, it is a battle and they’ve got five and a half days to play this sadistic game; they always wind up getting their quitters.
I’ll tell you what you just you dig deeper than you’ve ever dug in your entire life to not be one of those guys, and we play this game over and over throughout Hell Week. We want two quitters this time, this time we want five; it just gets tougher and tougher.
If you’re not performing surf torture you cover over 200 miles during these five and a half days running and that’s what the boat wherever you go on top of your head, it runs through the hair and through the skin and the top of your head, the pressure so great on your neck in a class before as the guy broke his neck underneath one of these boats where the guy break a leg.
Alright, so if the sleep deprivation and all this physical exertion doesn’t do it for you. Well then on top of all that, you know there’s a hallucination. You know, looking back now it’s kind of funny. I grew up watching Ninja Turtles, and I’ll never forget looking down in the water on the last night we’re doing this paddle called around the world. We paddle around Coronado Island, and I see Donatello coming up out of the water.
Like no way Leonardo’s like so real. You know, other guys they’ve got their own hallucinations, one jumping up on the front of the ball like he’s George Washington throwing this big hand salute, we’re in a race, we need to be panelists. We’re like, what are you doing? He just calls out what he sees we’re in California, he goes: the Statue of Liberty. You’re seeing things that aren’t there.
You know, looking back on it, it’s hilarious, but when you’re going through it, you’re going mad. What I just share with you guys is a little five and a half day snapshot of about a two year long pipeline to make it through SEAL training. I can kind of wrap up difficulty wise just on the numbers, the numbers speak for themselves.
I showed up with the class of 173 guys, we all vowed the same thing: we will die before we quit. By graduation day there’s only 13 of that original class number still standing there. On that graduation day I mean that was the highlight.
I will never forget where I was at as I was walking out looking up thinking Scott, we did this. I just named on the bill of my hat. I’ve got my family, my friends, there’s like Chad, you did it You made it and getting the Trident insignia says I’ve become a SEAL appended in my chest.
Not only was this one of the happiest moments of my life, but quickly, and unfortunately, it became one of the lowest days in my life. And I didn’t understand why. And things just went downhill from there.
Later on, I heard these words spoken by Christian philosophers. This is years later, and I finally had an explanation for it, I experienced at graduation day.
Ravi Zacharias, he said, these words he says, one of the loneliest moments a man will ever experience is when he has achieved that what he thought would deliver the ultimate, in the end, it lets him down.
One of the loneliest moments a man will ever experience is when he’s achieved that what he thought would deliver the ultimate in the end, it lets him down, what he’s referring to right there. It’s just the human condition put on steroids.
It’s something that we’re all familiar with, at least to some degree, the idea that I’m not happy with where I’m at in my life right now, but I’ve got plans, I’ve got goals, I got something I’m aiming at and achievement.
And if I could just get there if I could just get that position or that salary or that home or that relationship, my family in this spot, then I’d be happy. So I’m working towards it.
And so what you do is you believe that if I can get to that goal, that’s where I’ll be satisfied. So you develop a hunger. And that hunger gives you drive, it gives you the discipline to ultimately get there, and you achieve your goal, and you have tasted it, the feeling of success and you’re satisfied, just like you thought you would be.
But what happens? That satisfaction does not last. And so what do we do? We just reason within ourselves. Okay, it makes sense. It didn’t last because I didn’t go for something big enough, something great enough, I just need to raise the bar a little bit more, track up the mountain a little bit higher, then it will deliver for me.
And so you raise that bar, you go a little further, a little higher. You get there, you drink it up, satisfied, like you thought, but what happens? You get hungry, you get thirsty all over again. It’s like this vicious cycle.
Here’s the big question is what happens when you get to a point where you can no longer reason within yourself and say I will just raise the bar. Suppose maybe you got to the peak. A billionaire’s asked this question in Forbes magazine, if you could go back in time, and give yourself a word of advice, what would it be?
And his response was, if I, if I can go back to say, hey, self, when you get to the top of the mountain, there’s nothing up there. And so for me, you know, here I am becoming this NAVY SEAL. This is my top of the mountain. If this doesn’t do it, I can’t think of any other peak any next.
And maybe I’m not being imaginative enough. I just realize if this doesn’t do it, nothing will. And so that graduation day, not only was it one of the happiest moments of my life, but there’s also really the fulfillment of those words, one of the loneliest moments a man will ever experience when he’s achieved that which he thought would deliver the ultimate; in the end, it lets him down.
I felt like I was better off not being a SEAL and looking forward to becoming a NAVY SEAL, because then at least I had something in front of me to give me drive to invest into that. Now that I’ve arrived, and I realize I’m still just the same person, it’s really the fulfillment of those words.
Well, where do you go from there? Of course, I’m not going to let anybody know how I really feel. I mean, I got my buddies pat me on the back, you did it. You got to be on top of the world. And I just back yeah, living a dream rock star. When in reality, I was more miserable at that stage in my life than I’d ever been.
I just invested everything. I don’t know what I thought just everything would come together once I’d become a SEAL or sort of the same guy. So I get put on SEAL Team one and at the time SEAL Team One had just come home off the deployment, whole team’s given some time off some leave.
So I’m going back to my hometown, hanging out with old friends. And again, they’re just you know, you got to be on top of the world Chad like, well, let’s go out let’s drink, let’s party. Well, everything just kind of went downhill for me from that point forward. And I was just really getting reckless and out of control.
I mean, I was just doing whatever felt… I felt like I didn’t feel anymore. And so what gave me some stimulation, some feeling was drinking… drinking and partying with the guys but all the foolishness that just comes out of that, the blacking out waking up the next day, hearing about the shameful things that you did try to act like it’s a badge of honor. You know, getting into fights.
And you know I woke up one morning needing 26 stitches in my knuckles for a thing I don’t remember. I was in the backseat of my parents car. They’re driving, they want to drop me off in San Diego at the SEAL team, get rid of me and they’re basically telling me look we love you, son but do not come back.
You know you came into our house last night spreading blood all over the walls. You’re out of your mind challenging your dad to a fight. We don’t know your deal is. And my dad said you’re going to get yourself killed as somebody else killed, you really need to get your act together.
And I wish I could tell you that I felt some remorse but at that stage in my life, my conscience was just so numbed, I just laughed it off like I did what that’s hilarious. Speak to the guy about this and, you know, they’re just looking at me like he just doesn’t get it.
You know, always thinking about was, we stole two kegs of beer. That’s the last thing I really remember is drinking one up and I think we stashed the other one in my dad’s garage in my hometown. So I get stitched up by the doc in Coronado, San Diego and I go, I’m going to go back and go drink that other keg of beer.
So I make my way back to Huntington, I show up. My dad said, what are you doing here? And I just want to get to this keg that I stashed in his garage. And in all this time that’s always been inviting me and praying for me trying to get me to go to these, you know, evangelistic events to church and church was a thing I did when I was little, I’m like, that’s your guys’s thing. Now, don’t worry about me.
You know, my mom’s always praying for you. I’d come home with a twisted ankle. You know, walking around like I don’t know what I did last night out drinking my mom, what happened to you? I don’t know. And she just back. I was praying that God would get your attention. So you prayed for this. This is your prayers. Don’t pray for me. So they’re always praying. They’d always invite me to go.
And I decided alright, I’ll go. But the motives were not sincere. My whole plan was this. I want to get to that keg of beer. I’m not going to force my way in. I could tell my dad’s pretty serious about not letting me in. If I just go, I could suffer through it, I’ll punch through and punch my card into this little church event. It’ll be over by nine o’clock at night. I’m not going to even start my night till 10 or 11. And so we’ll get home, they’ll be so happy I went, they’ll go to sleep, I’ll fall right off their radar, then I’ll grab that cake and off we really go.
So I say, All right, I’ll go to the thing. You will, like, Yeah, let’s go for them. Right? They have no idea, my real motives here when we get there.
And there happens to be a man that speaking there that evening by the name of Greg Laurie. And this Greg Laurie is the one that’s speaking at Harvest America at AT&T Stadium, March 6.
And so, you know, I just knew, hey, this guy’s a good storyteller. At least it’s not some old boring guy. He’s gonna put me to sleep and I am listening and boom, he starts talking about a soldier. I’m thinking great, at least if I’m going to come to some church event I get to hear a story about a soldier; here I am an active duty SEAL and the soldier was named Naaman. He’s a Syrian commander.
And if you guys might remember Naaman, the Syrian commander is one who has had great success in battle. He’s got this entourage of men that highly respected highly regarded, even the king enjoys Naaman’s company. I mean I’m thinking Naaman sounds like he could have been a Navy Seal had there been such a thing during his time.
Naaman is this mighty man of valor, he says but Naaman had leprosy. He explained that leprosy during Naaman’s time was a skin disease that was certain death; he was a dead man walking.
And so picture this if you would, so much of Naaman’s success, this outward man this persona the Syrian commander with all that armor when in reality underneath that armor, underneath that clothing, the real Naaman is falling apart, he’s deteriorating, he’s this Dead Man Walking. It’s been said that not even the worst criminal of all Syria would ever want to trade skin with Naaman.
Well immediately secretly this all clicked for me. Like Dang, you know, that is just like my situation.
Here I am a SEAL, you know on the outside when in reality, you know, I’m more miserable than I’ve ever been. And how many of us can relate with that being a certain man in front of your friends, your co-workers, your family members, when in reality there is something else going on underneath it all.
Well, Naaman no doubt about it. He is this man that does things in all power and might. He’s exhausted every avenue tried every doctor done everything he can. It can’t be done. He can’t be healed.
But he hears about this prophet by the name of Elijah who might be able to do something about this leprosy, served the God of Israel. So he makes a 150 mile trip. With this man, his entourage bringing the equivalent of millions upon millions of dollars in gold, silver and apparel, visiting him knocking on the door. He wants to be healed.
But what happens is this: he won’t even come to the door. Doesn’t even give him the courtesy of a face to face conversation; sends a servant to the door to relay a message, says if you just go dip yourself in the Jordan River seven times when you come up your flesh will be restored to you.
What it says is that Naaman became furious. I mean, could you imagine he came all this way with all these men and he disrespects him like this won’t even give him a face to face conversation. He could probably just about have this Prophet’s head and before he does something foolish like that, it says he turned and he went away in a rage, reasoning out loud you know… I thought he was going to come out wave his hand over this place called the name of the Lord his God and he wants to be go dip in that filthy water over there. I’ve got cleaner water where I’m from.
I mean think about it like think Naaman hasn’t tried washing it off yet. And so what we see is Naaman and really he’s got his mind wrapped all around the physical process. He’s not thinking about the spiritual thing that might take place.
And Naaman’s true obstacle here if you haven’t caught it yet. It’s his pride. It’s his ego. His pride is getting in the way; it’s causing him just to bail all these men. They hate to see this; they are running up to him, they’re trying to reason with him, saying Naaman, come on. You know if that Prophet came in, gave you some big great thing to do, you would have done it.
I mean, what if he was told you want to be fixed to this leprosy? I’ve got something for you that only a mighty man could do. You’re gonna have to earn it, you’re gonna have to work hard. Naaman, show me where to start. You know, when we want to do run over broken glass for 200 miles, show me where to begin.
But because it was such a simple thing, just go dip yourself in this water. To him, it seemed like a foolish thing. And that’s what they say about the preaching on the cross as well in the New Testament, the preaching on the cross: it’s foolishness to those that are perishing.
Well, something these guys say to Naaman, it begins to wear away at him, it begins to get through. And don’t miss this, how difficult this might have been for him to finally go ahead and turn and make that move to go out into that water. Maybe his men that so highly revered him so much respect for him. They’ve got this view of him. Maybe they’d never really seen the real Naaman that he was hiding underneath at all.
As he peels away that armor as the very act of peeling away that pride that needed to go, being transparent, his real condition, Wow, the real Naaman as he walks out into this water in act of faith and trust, believing this God of Israel is going to come through, dipping himself these seven times coming up and on that seventh time, he had brand new skin, like that of a baby.
Well I’m on the edge of my seat. Remember I had big plans to go out drinking this night and all of a sudden I feel myself just totally captivated. And then I kind of felt like I got left behind because I was right there with Naaman.
But this is where it picks back up. It gets pointed out that look just as Naaman was this certain man on the outside in front of his men, his Syrian commander, great success in battle, when in reality, we know we see something else is going on underneath it all. Who are you? Who are you in front of your friends and your co-workers?
Who are you when you’re in your room and the lights are off and all you’re left with is your own thoughts. Naaman, he had his leprosy, he got a disease. It’s called sin. And that’s where it really hit me. Yeah, I do have this serious disease called sin. Sin, just as leprosy has devastating consequences. Leprosy leads to death. And the wages of sin is death. That’s the consequences.
Naaman provided this way out. And so then it gets explained what is ours. That just as Naaman, he had this way out by going out into this water, we don’t put our faith and trust that God’s going to come through, through some river and some water. What it is, this is God sent His Son, Jesus of Nazareth to come into this world on a rescue mission. And he lived a holy, perfect, sinless life that I could not that no one has ever lived or will live.
And that leprosy in the Old Testament is a picture of sin being spotted and blotted the blemishes of it but Jesus, he was holy, pure, unblemished, and then he goes to the cross, and why did he go to the cross like he said it was a Rescue Mission. He went there with purpose, his rescue mission to save his people from what… from their sin.
And so it took places to the cross, Jesus traded skin with you and I’s where he took our leprosy, our sin upon himself so that we can be switched though we could be lavished with God’s grace and His mercy, not only paying the penalty and the consequences of that sin in our place, but rising again from the death, showing he has not only power over sin, but power over death.
And then he declares that because I live, you also shall live.
But remember for Naaman, it all started with what… it all started with humbling himself before his creator, he needed to go to his own funeral as it were. Well, Jesus says this is where it starts, if anyone wants to come after me says he must deny self… that deny self is that repentance of sin. That’s not just the realization that I’ve sinned and I’m sorry, got caught right? Judas was sorry, he got caught. It is I am so sorry. I want to disassociate with this old man. I want to strip him off, he gets nailed to the cross right there with Jesus.
And so that turning from sin, that repentance is turning away from the old man disassociating and then you put your faith and trust not on some water, but in this person, Jesus of Nazareth to do what he says he will do. He does all the hard work, the heavy lifting, paying the penalty of that sin.
The moment you turn from your sin and place your faith and trust in him, as it was explained to me that night that just as Naaman’s leprosy was blotted out wiped away, gotta remember your sin no more.
In fact, the New Testament says repent and be converted that your sins may be blotted out just like that leprosy, blot it out that times refreshing may come.
March 14 2007, it just hit me that this is what it really is all about. You know, here I am trying to find fulfilment and identity and all these other little things that just never really fully satisfied. They never really deliver. It’s like decaf, right? Jesus says that if you drink of his living water, he says, you’ll never be thirsty again.
How is it that all these other things leave you hungry and thirsty for more, but he says, you will never be thirsty again. The way that works is this is because once you have that right relationship with your Creator, that you’re always meant to have through His Son, Jesus, the search is over and you are complete, you’re complete.
And then all these other things in life that leave you hungry and thirsty for more, never really satisfied. You could actually finally enjoy them now, like you never have before in their proper category where they belong. They’re all supplementary, secondary to life. And that’s where you get in God’s word, whatever you do in word or deed you do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.
And so that’s how you take something that only has temporal significance. You infuse eternal meaning and significance into it. And so I find myself that night repenting of my sin, placing my faith and trust in Christ. And I experienced what the scripture said that if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation, old things pass away behold, all things become new.
I can’t even — I don’t even have the words to describe just wow, the relief that the burden this old man that racked up so much sin just forgiven, and he did all the heavy lifting. I didn’t have to do anything, but he paid the highest price he could possibly pay to set me free.
And so that’s why we not only call him Savior, but Lord, because we owe him our allegiance. We owe him our loyalty, just like the Apostle Paul, that moment that he was flipped around on that Damascus Road. His first question is, Lord, what would you have me do? And that ought to be our question to him as well; he’s Savior and he’s Lord, meaning that he informs us how we ought to live our lives from that point forward.
And we do everything in word or deed in his name.
So, needless to say, I never went back to that keg of beer. In fact, I forgot about that keg of beer. Years later, I’m helping my dad clean out the garage, completely forgot about the thing. He pulls his tarp back and all of a sudden there it is. He goes, what is this? And I’m like, oh no.
Remember that night, we all went to Church, I got a funny story to share with you about my original plans for that evening.
So fast forward, now here I am this active duty Navy Seal but a follower of Jesus Christ, and now I have got this real fulfillment in what we are doing. And remember we are going after evil men, men that take suicide vests strap them on a mentally handicapped women, you know the words, all that’s required for evil to triumph is for good men to stand back and do nothing. And we are not going to stand back and do nothing.
Remember, we are going down this road, I see a sign, and it says Fallujah, Iraq in English and Arabic, and that’s when it hit me for the first time on this entire deployment that wow, I wonder if Scott ever saw this same sign before he entered into Fallujah, it’s one of those main big signs. What are the odds, if they switched out the signs, it’s only been several years.
I kind of trip down on that thinking, that’s one of the last signs he probably looked at before he got into this ambush. Little did we know we are being set up for an ambush.
As we go pulling up to this house, it’s going to be business as usual, we’re going to get this guy when he’s sleeping, he doesn’t even know. Well he knew we were coming. He was informed by the source that told us about him. Apparently he went and told this guy that we’re coming.
And so he had his little minions all set up and as we’re in our most vulnerable spot, that’s when all hell broke loose and we’re getting shot at from three different directions, taking effective fire. It’s time for us to do what we do best in SEAL: shoot, move and communicate.
And really against all the odds in this gun fight, I mean ambush is you typically don’t all come out of this thing alive. This is how my mentor died. We ended up killing and driving back the enemy and the worse we have is one guy that got shot in the butt, and he was just laughing about it after some morphine.
And we all came back out of that situation, getting the guy that we were going after and we all came home alive out of that situation.
You know, something I want to hammer home with you guys, though, is that it doesn’t always work out that way. So I want to close on this is our freedom. It isn’t free. We know that is paid for in the currency of blood.
Men like Mike Monsoor, US Navy SEAL while he was in a place called Ramadi in Iraq, he was up on top of a roof providing cover for some other SEALs on the road, on the occasion, an insurgent throws a hand grenade up on the roof, it’s Mikey in the chest falls on the dark, if you could imagine, neck is just a step away, so that grenade not a problem.
But here is the catch, is that there are some other SEALs on the roof with him. And they didn’t send a chance of hopping up in time in getting past this grenade. So Mikey’s last word was: grenade, as he threw himself down, just enough time to get over the top of it, smother it as it went off. And he absorbed the blast of that grenade all on himself, taking all that shrapnel the metal and he suffered for 30 minutes before he died.
Because of what we did, every single one of those other guys in the roof, they all lived. So he can mark these words down in history: greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for his friends. That’s what Mike Monsoor did.
My friend Scott, for the longest time, I didn’t really want to talk about what happened to him because it’s difficult. But I have realized that I have a responsibility. I have a story to share.
Although he was killed and hung from Euphrates River bridge, it wasn’t without purpose, it wasn’t in vain. One of the last things he ever said to me, Junior, I want to go over there. Perhaps I could make a difference.
So again those words: greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for his friends. Part of our SEAL creed, before we go out in any operation and maybe death might be an imminent thing. We might not all come back home alive. Master chief might get up and reflect on some of these guys like Mike Monsoor or Scott Helvenston, and get a platoon fired up.
In fact, part of our creed is that in the worst of conditions, our ally on the legacy of those who have come before me, to study my resolve and guide my every deed. And there is nothing like that. Remember guys like that, it just gets you from this mode of what might happen to me to, it’s like, you get this bulletproof like let’s go get the operation done.
On a similar way we have one other legacy to look at, to reflect on that we all have in common, is man who spoke those words of greater love, I quoted is none other than Jesus of Nazareth. He said those words at a very unique time; it’s prior to going to the cross.
So let’s think of our King of Kings this way, that just as Mike Monsoor jumps on this grenade absorbing the blast of this grenade on himself, why? So that others could live. Let’s not forget that Jesus, when he went to the cross, he absorbed the blast, not of some hand grenade, but the blast, the consequences, the effects of our sin he absorbed on himself. Why did he do that? So that we all could live.
Just as my friend Scott killed and hung from this Euphrates River bridge, for the sake of freedom, never forget that Jesus was killed and he was hung from that cross of Calvary so that we could be set free from the eternal consequences of sin.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down his life for his friends. You could see in men like Mike Monsoor and Scott Helvenston and I think even greater look to the cross. That’s the proper perspective. The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the word. It says for he, speaking of the Father, made him Jesus who knew no sin to become sin for us that we might become the righteous of God in him. And he has a purpose for each and every one of us, and he’s made this purpose crystal clear.
There are some particular things, certain gifts, certain abilities, certain talks that God gives us, but there is a crystal clear marching orders that we have been given. Just like in the SEAL teams, when we are given a duty and the task is the very definition of a commission, we are expected to follow through on it.
When we have been given a duty and a task from our commander of the universe, and that duty and task is the go do what: is go and spread the gospel message.
CS Lewis says, enemy occupied territory, that is what this world is. Christianity is a story of our rightful king, that’s Jesus. He’s landed. You might see in disguise but now he’s calling us all to take part in his great campaign of sabotage. That campaign of sabotage, guys, is overthrowing the plans of the enemy of our soul. We are in a real battle. This is a real battlefield, and he is like the ultimate terrorist. Remember suicide bombers, what do they do? They strap on a vest, they know they are going down, they are trying to wreck as many people’s lives with them as they possibly can.
It wasn’t the enemy of our soul, the ultimate suicide bomber. I mean he knows he’s going down. He’s going to hell and he’s trying to drag down as many people with him as he possibly can. And we have been given the task to go and charge the kingdom of darkness. With what weapon? We have been given the gospel. That’s the greatest weapon we have to charge the kingdom of darkness with.
And so we have these marching orders and really what I want to get you guys excite about fired up, is how we could fulfill those marching orders in March.. March 6, Harvest America.
You know, this pastor, Greg Laurie, very gifted, God used him in my life. I felt like he’s speaking directly to me, when I was there in the crowd. And the only reason I was there really if you think about it, is because somebody brought me there. Somebody invited, somebody prayed for me. I showed totally reluctance. They probably thought, he’d never go but I wound up going.
One way or another I got there. I was there and look, what took place? The gospel, the power of God and the salvation.
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