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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Quitting Isn’t an Option: My Life as a Navy SEAL (Part 2 of 2)

Quitting Isn’t an Option: My Life as a Navy SEAL (Part 2 of 2)

Former Navy SEAL Chad Williams shares his experience of training to become a Navy SEAL, only to have his mentor killed in the line of duty in Iraq. After SEAL graduation, Chad was depressed and drinking heavily. Hear how he found a new lease on life through a relationship with Jesus Christ. (Part 2 of 2)
Original Air Date: June 1, 2021


Chad Williams: I wanna achieve something, go for something great. I want some identity and so I started 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, “I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to go become an Alaskan crab fisherman.” Yeah.

Audience: (laughing)

“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. I know what I wanna be. I wanna be a Navy SEAL.

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: Last time we heard how Chad Williams went from college dropout to Navy SEAL and we’ll hear the rest of his story on today’s episode of Focus on the Family. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, as we follow Chad through the extremely grueling Navy SEAL training all the way up to graduation day we also heard about his grief over the death of his mentor and coach who had returned to duty in Iraq. And if you missed that, uh, please get in touch with us. We can send you the entire message on CD or audio download along with Chad’s book called SEAL of God: The Path is Narrow, but the Reward is Great, and I’d highly recommend it. He really has a fascinating story.

John: This is terrific and we’re only scratching the surface here on this broadcast so get the book and the CD when you call 800-A-FAMILY. 800-232-6459 or you can find those resources and the audio download at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: Today we’ll hear how Chad’s life took an unexpected downward turn and how he found a relationship with Jesus Christ.

John: And we’re starting uh, part two here as Chad shares how he felt immediately after the exhilaration of completing the Navy SEAL training program. Here he is now, Chad Williams speaking at Wing Men Ministries on today’s episode of Focus on the Family.

Chad: Is 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, an 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 just 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- the feeling of success and you are 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, trek 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’ll just raise the bar.” Suppose maybe you got to the peak. A billionaire was 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, “Hey, if I could go back to… I’d 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 that… If this doesn’t do it, I can’t think of any other peak, any next and maybe I’m not being imaginative enough but I just realized that 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 it was 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 but 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 got my buddies patting me on the back. You did it. You gotta be on top of the world, and I just back, “Yeah, living the dream. Rockstar.” When in reality I was more miserable at that stage of my life than I’d ever been. I just, I invested everything. I don’t know what I thought just everything would come together once I become a SEAL. I was still just the same guy. So I get put on SEAL team ONE and at the time SEAL team ONE had just come home off of 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, “Whoo! Let’s go out, let’s drink, let’s party.” Well, everything just kinda went downhill for me uh, from that point forward and I was just really getting reckless and out of control. I mean, I was just doing whatever… 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. You know, the blacking out, waking up the next day, hearing about the shameful things that you did. Trying to act like it’s a badge of honor. You know, getting into fights and I- I woke up one morning needing 26 stitches uh, in my knuckles for a thing I don’t remember. I was in the backseat of my parents’ car. They’re driving. They’re just… 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. You’re our 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 what your deal is.”

My dad’s saying, “You’re going to get yourself killed or 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 of my life my conscience was just so numb, I just laughed it off. Like, I did what? That’s hilarious. Wait ’till the guys at the team hear about this, and they’re just looking at me like, “He just doesn’t get it.” You know and all I was 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’s like, “What are you doing here?” And I just wanna get to this keg that I stashed in his garage and you know all this time they’d always been inviting me and praying for me, trying to get me to go to these, uh, you know evangelistic events, to church and church was a thing I did when I was little. I’m like, “That’s your guys’ thing now. Don’t worry about me.” You know, my mom’s always, “We’re praying for ya.” 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 be like, “What happened to you?” I don’t know. And she’d just be like, “I was praying that God would get your attention.” I said, “You pray for this? This is your prayers? Like, don’t pray for me.”

Audience: (laughs)

So they’re always praying, they’re always inviting me to go and uh, I decide, all right. 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 uh, punch my card into this little church event. It’ll be over by 9:00 at night. I’m not even going to start my night ’till 10:00 or 11:00 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 keg and off we really go. So I say, “All right. I’ll go to the thing.” “You will?” Like, “Yeah. Let’s go.” Poor them, all right? They have no idea my real motives here.

Well we get there and there happens to be a man that’s speaking there that evening uh, by the name of Greg Laurie. You know, I- I just knew hey, this guy’s a good storyteller. At least it’s not some old boring guy that’s going to put me to sleep and so I’m 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 was a Syrian commander. He’s got this entourage of men that highly respectives, highly regard him. Even the king enjoys Naaman’s company. I mean, I’m thinking Naaman sounds like he could’ve been a Navy SEAL had he… Had there been such a thing during his time. Naaman’s this mighty man of valor it says, but Naaman had leprosy. It is 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 for all of Naaman’s success. This outward man, this persona, this Syrian commander with all that armor, when in reality underneath that armor, underneath that clothing the real Naaman, he’s 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. 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’d ever been. And how many of us can relate with that being a certain man in front of your friends your coworkers 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 his own power, his own 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 150-mile trip with his men, 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.” Well it says that Naaman became furious. I mean, could you imagine just came all of this way with all of his 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.

Before he does something foolish like that, it says he turned, and he went away in a rage. Reasoning out loud, I- I thought he was gonna come out, wave his hand over this place, call in the name of the Lord is God and you know he wants me to go dip in the filthy water over there? I’ve got cleaner water where I’m from, and Naaman’s true obstacle here if you haven’t caught it yet, it’s his pride. It’s his ego. His pride’s getting in the way. It’s causing him just to bail. Well his men, they hate to see this. They’re running up to him and they’re trying to reason with him and saying, “Look, Naaman, come on. You know if that prophet came out, gave you some big great thing to do you would’ve done it but because it was such a simple thing just go dip yourself in this water,” to him it seemed like a foolish thing.

Well something these guys say to Naaman, it just, it begins to wear away at him, it begins to get through. And uh, don’t miss this. How difficult this might’ve 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 it all. As he peels away that armor, that’s 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 an act of faith and trust, believing this God of Israel’s gonna 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 the sudden I feel myself just totally captivated and then I kinda felt like I got left behind because I was right there with Naaman. Uh, but this is where it picks back up.

It gets pointed out that look, just as Naaman was a certain man on the outside, in front of his men, a 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 coworkers? Who are you when you’re in your room and the lights are off and all you’re left with is your own thoughts?

John: You’re listening today to Chad Williams on Focus on the Family and you can get his book called SEAL of God: The Path is Narrow but the Reward is Great for a donation of any amount supporting the work here of Focus on the Family. Just call 800 the letter A, and the word FAMILY or donate online and request that book at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Let’s return now to more from Chad Williams.

Chad: You know, Naaman, he had his leprosy. You got a disease. It’s called sin and that’s where it really hit me that 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 but Naaman’s provided this way out and so then it gets explained what is ours. You know 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 gonna come through through some river and some water. What it is is this. 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, and 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 we say, it was a rescue mission. He went there with purpose. His rescue mission to save his people from what? From their sin.

And so what took place at the cross is Jesus traded skin with you and I as it were. He took our leprosy, our sin upon himself so that we could be switched, so that 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 dead. Showing that 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 have sinned and I’m sorry I 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… You put your faith and trust not in 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, it was explained to me that night that just as Naaman’s leprosy was blotted out, wiped away God will 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. Blotted out that times of refreshing may come.

March 14th, 2007, it just, it hit me that this is what it really is all about. You know, here I am trying to find fulfillment an identity in all of these other little things that just never really fully satisfy, they never really deliver. It’s like decaf, right? Jesus says that if you drink of His living water, He says you’ll never thirst again. How is it that all these other things leave you hungry and thirsty for more but He says you will never thirst 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 are 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 so I find myself that night repenting of my sin, placing my faith and trust in Christ and I experienced what the scriptures say that if any man be in Christ he is a new creation. Old things pass away but hold… All things become new. I- I can’t even… I don’t even have the words to describe just wow, the relief that the burden of 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?” 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. And 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 this tarp back and he… All of a sudden there it is. He goes, “What is this?” And I’m like, “Oh no.”

Audience: (laughs)

Remember that night we all went to church? I got a funny story to share with you about-

Audience: (laughs)

My original plans for that evening. So fast forward now here I am this active duty Navy SEAL but also a follower of Jesus Christ and now I’ve got this real fulfillment in what we’re doing and remember we’re going after evil men. Men that take suicide vests, strap them on to mentally handicapped women, you know the words that all that’s required for evil to triumph is for good men to stand back and do nothing. Well we’re not going to stand back and do nothing. I remember as we’re going down this road I see a sign and it says Fallujah, Iraq in English and in Arabic and that’s when it hit me for the first time on this entire deployment that whoa, I wonder if Scott ever saw this same sign before he entered into Fallujah. It’s one of those main big signs that it’s just what are the odds that they switched out the signs. It’s only been several years. And I kind of tripped out 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’re 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 and you know it’s time for us to do what we do best as SEALs, shoot, move and communicate and really against all the odds in this gunfight, I mean ambushes 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 worst we housed one guy that got shot in the butt and he was just laughing about it after some morphine.

Audience: (laughs)

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. And just something I wanna hammer home with you guys though is that it doesn’t always work out that way. So I want to close on this is that freedom, it isn’t free, and we know that it’s paid for in the currency of blood. Uh, 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 when from an unknown location an insurgent throws a hand grenade up on the roof, hits Mikey in the chest, falls to the dark. If you could imagine he had an exit just a step away so that grenade not his problem. But here’s the catch is that there’s some other SEALs on the roof with them and they didn’t stand a chance of hopping up in time and 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 to smother it as it went off.

He absorbed the blast of that grenade on himself, taking on that shrapnel, the metal and he suffered for 30 minutes before he died but because of what he did every single one of those other guys on the roof, they all lived. And so you can mark these words down in history. Greater love has no one than this. Than to lay down one’s life for his friends. That’s what Mike Monsoor did. You know, my friend Scott for the longest time I didn’t really want to talk about what happened to him because it’s difficult. But, you know I’ve realized that I have a responsibility, you know I have his story to share and although he was killed and hung from this Euphrates River bridge, it wasn’t without purpose, it wasn’t in vain. One of the last things he ever said to me was, “Junior, when I go over there perhaps I can make a difference.” And so again those words, greater love has no one than this than one that lays down his life for his friends. You know 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.

A Master Chief might get up and reflect on some of these guys like Mike Monsoor or Scott Helvenston to get the platoon fired up. In fact, part of our creed is that in the worst of conditions I rely on legacy of those who have gone before me to steady my resolve and guide my every deed. And there’s nothing like that to remember guys like that, it just, it 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. Well in a similar way you know we have one other legacy to look at, to reflect on that we all have in common with. It’s the man who spoke those words of greater love I quoted. It’s none other than Jesus of Nazareth. And He said those words at a very unique time. It’s prior to going to the cross and so let’s think of our king of kings this way. The justice 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 and 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 than one that lays down his life for his friends. You could see it 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 world. 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. You know, there’s some particular things, certain gifts, certain abilities, certain tasks that God gives us uh, but there’s a crystal clear marching orders that we’ve been given. Just like in the SEAL teams when we’re given a duty and a task that’s the very definition of a commission, we’re expected to follow through on it.

Well we’ve been given a duty and a task from our commander of the universe and that duty and task is to go do what? It’s to go and spread the gospel message. You know, C.S. Lewis says, “Enemy occupied territory, that is what this world is but Christianity’s a story of how our rightful king, that’s Jesus. He has landed. You might see Him 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. I remember suicide bombers, what do they do? They strap on a vest, they know they’re going down. They’re trying to wreck as many people lives with them as they possibly can.

Isn’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’ve been given the task to go and charge the kingdom of darkness. With what weapon? We’ve 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.

John: And we’ll have to end uh, this inspirational message from Chad Williams right there. Let me add that uh, Chad served our country so faithfully as a Navy SEAL for five years completing tours of duty in the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Iraq and our thanks to Chad for his service and to Wing Men Ministries for allowing us to use this presentation.

Jim: Wow John, uh, I really appreciate Chad’s message. Bringing that military perspective to our lives as believers in Jesus Christ. Uh, our goal in life should not be to just achieve peace and comfort. We’ve been given a mission by our Lord to take the Gospel to all nations and that’s found right there in the New Testament, Matthew 28:18. We have our marching orders right there and evangelism is our primary goal here at Focus on the Family. Of course we wanna help you have a better marriage and help you in your parenting skills but if you don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, you’re literally missing the boat. Uh, let me put it this way. If you die tonight, do you know for sure that you’d go to heaven? Would you like to? If so, pray this prayer with me right now. Lord Jesus, I agree that I am a sinner. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I repent and turn away from my past transgressions. I open the door of my life and receive you as my Savior and Lord. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.

John: Amen and uh, if you pray that prayer along with Jim please let us know. We’d love to uh, celebrate that with you. Uh, that’s the best decision you could ever make.

Jim: Yes, and uh, please request our coming home booklet. It will explain more about the Christian life and what steps you should take next. And keep listening to this broadcast. That’s a great step right there.

John: It is and of course uh, when you download our app you can listen time and again and never miss an episode. Great idea Jim. And uh, as a listener get in touch with us if you’ve got a prayer request or if you’d like to know anything more about the resources that we’ve mentioned today. Our number is 800 the letter A, and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459. Or online, we’re at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back as we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ.

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