Transformed (part 4)
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After Sam finished his first tour of duty as a Navy Seal in Viet Nam, his next billet was stateside pulling shore duty in the San Diego area. That's where he met Mark.
Mark was going through seal team training at the time, and would eventually end up on the same team with Sam, but they didn't meet at work, they met at church. Because Mark was training to become a Seal and was a new believer, Sam took a special interest in him and they became friends.
Mark made it through the program and became a BUDS (Basic Underwater Demolition Seal) instructor. He was making a success of himself, that is, until alcohol got the best of him. When his problem became disruptive at work, the Navy put him in rehabilitation, but it didn't take. His problem got so bad, that he lost his career and had to get out of the Navy. But his career isn't all he lost, he lost his family too. After a while, his wife had enough and she left him.
Mark had lost it all, except his salvation and his friendship with Sam. Even when the Navy and his wife didn't want Mark anymore, God still did. Romans 8:38-39 says, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
What can separate us from God's love? Notice the extremes Paul mentions when he answered that question. Death-life. Angels-demons. Present-future. Height-depth. Nothing, absolutely, nothing can separate us from God's love.
I suppose that if it was Mark's responsibility to hold on to God, he would have slipped away years before, but it wasn't Mark that had to hold onto God, it was God that held onto Mark. Jesus said, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand." (John 10:28 NIV)
What kind of life did Jesus promise in John 10:28? Eternal life, the scripture says. Life that doesn't end. Not life for as long as you walk a straight line-there is no condition to the promise-it is eternal.
"My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand." ( John 10:29 NIV)
God held Mark in the palm of his hand, even when Mark was drifting away from his commitment, God held him tightly. And Mark was certainly drifting.
For the next two years, Mark would stop by to chat with Sam but was continuing to live out of God's will. Sam patiently encouraged Mark to return to the Lord, but Mark would always say something to the effect of, "If God will do this or that, then I'll follow Him again."
One afternoon, Sam got fed up with Mark's rationalizations. He sprung out of his chair, grabbed Mark and threw him up against the wall. "When are you going to get your act together?" Sam yelled. "Get out of here, and don't come back until we have something new to talk about."
When Mark left, Sam prayed, "God, this guy doesn't deserve to breathe your air. Why don't you do us all a favor and just beam him up?"
Mark had grievously sinned against God and his sin was destroying every relationship he had. He'd lost his career, his wife, and now, he was losing his friend.
That's the way it is. Even if we don't lose our salvation when we live
in habitual sin, we still lose a lot.