Weeks of training led me to my graduation day in boot camp (Air Force.) I had left (at home) 4 kids and a husband while I was away. I missed them terribly. I'd never been away from my kids before, ever. Boot camp was a little easier for me than others, considering that I was older than most of the others who had just come out of high school, and considering that I was married with 4 children already, and had already been through a lot of life's "boot camp." The TI's didn't scare me nor did they change me. But I still learned a lot of valuable lessons, and there's one I will never forget.
I had to run a mile and a half in less than 12 minutes in order to graduate boot camp. I have never been a good runner, and I certainly didn't become a better runner after having 4 kids. I was nervous about that run test, because I knew that if I failed, I would be recycled back into a flight who was a couple of weeks behind mine, thus, having to wait that much longer to see my family...my children.. whom I missed most of all.
My TI knew that I was worried. We'd had more than one private conversation in his office about my children & worries of not graduating on time. I had done well to get through those long weeks of training... but sometimes, usually at night time, when our day would slow down & we'd have time to think, I'd cry to see my kids. I'd cry just to hear their voices, because we were lucky if we even got a 5 minute phone conversation to home once a week. At one point, my TI called me to his office and offered to give me some extra phone time to call my kids. As bad as I wanted to take the offer, I declined. I told him that I knew everyone else missed their families just as much, and that I just didn't feel right about getting special privileges to call my kids. He said my situation was different, but honored my feelings on the matter.
The day of the run had approached. I was on a track, with hundreds of others running the same track and the same test. We had 6 laps to run to reach a mile and a half. We wore ankle devices that counted our laps because it's just impossible to make sure that many people run their required laps at the same time.
So I ran. I was in tears by about the 3rd or 4th lap. When you have to run that long with a short time limit it hurts your body. My face was red and I was ready to give up. But I kept picturing my kids faces in my mind, and did my best to keep pushing forward, knowing that I could see them if I just passed this test.
My TI was watching me as I ran every lap, but I didn't know it. As I crossed the line and ended my 5th lap, I saw my TI running right beside me from the corner of my eye. He could see that I was about ready to give up. He could see that my body was tired & I'd become too weary to finish. He began to yell at me, "Come on Cameron!!! You can do this!!! Come on!! I am not going to let you fail! You are going to see your kids!!!.... " His encouraging words was just enough to keep me going, because my body had already given out on me. His words kicked my will power in, and my mind finished that run.
He did this with me all the way around the track until I finished that last lap. He could've been watching and running with any of the others. But he didn't. He watched me, and he ran out onto the track to run with me and only me. I passed my run test in just over 11 minutes.
We all get this way spiritually. We become weary and ready to give up. Our bodies get tired. Our minds get worn down by the enemy, and some of us even quit. But God is watching each and every one of us and counting every lap we run. None of us are needles in the haystack on this track. He sees everyone of us and he knows where every one of us are. Some of us just stop listening for his voice when we get tired. What would we all be if we really KNEW that he's running right beside us and pushing us along?
He never gives up on us. He never leaves us. He KNOWS we get tired. He KNOWS the enemy attacks us. But he believes in us just like my TI believed in me. Even when our feet are dragging the pavement and we're ready to fall over and quit, he still believes in us. He won't run this race for us, because it's a choice we all have to make for ourselves. But he'll run with us, and he won't give up on us.
There is an end to this race, and only God knows when. YES, you're going to get tired! You're going to want to quit! The devil is going to do all that he can to wear you DOWN. But keep running! Keep pushing forward!
The day before my graduation, we ran what was called the "Airman's Run." You'd think that after all those weeks of NO sleep, constant training, and running a mile & a half in under 12 minutes just the day before, we'd be too exhausted to run TWO miles for the airman's run. The mental exhaustion of boot camp alone should've been enough to make us quit. This run was special though. We ran with our flights in a steady formation and sang jodies all the way, and towards the end of that run, our families were waiting on the sidelines, cheering & hollering for us as we rolled in... heads held high, smiles on our faces, pride swelled in our hearts, and renewed strength! We weren't tired because just knowing that everything we'd gone through was worth it, and knowing that we'd finally made it gave us back strength we didn't know we had.
I can just imagine that THIS is what the end of our race will feel like one day. Our strength was renewed by the beautiful sounds of our jodies and the beautiful sounds of our loved ones on the sidelines. All the weeks of training & tears were behind us...we had made it to the finish line! We finally got to march across the "Bomb Run" the next morning as we graduated. It was the first time we'd been allowed to even see the bomb run during our weeks of training. Heaven is waiting for us to march across its gates too! We dreamed for weeks about seeing the bomb run for the first time. That is an airman's goal, to see that bomb run for the first time the morning of their graduation. It's sacred ground at Lackland AFB.
Don't stop running! Don't give up! God is with us. God is in us! The heavenly Bomb Run is our final destination, and we're just passing through this world! This isn't going to last forever! Heaven is forever. The WORD is forever. GOD is forever. Push through your tears! Push through that burn! Push through your pain! Push through your sweat and KNOW that GOD won't let you fail if YOU DON'T WANT TO FAIL! I passed my run by the mercy of my TI's voice, but only because I DIDN'T WANT TO FAIL!
Keep RUNNING!! You WILL BE RENEWED! DON'T GIVE UP!
Devotional reading: all of Isaiah 40 (It'll bless you to read about what a MIGHTY GOD WE SERVE!)