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Closing the Gap: It Ain’t Just for Human Warriors …

“The defining characteristic of a warrior is the willingness to close with the enemy.” – Matt Larsen

Genesis 3:8   And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

For the last thirteen years, I have had the privilege of training our military men and women during twelve years of war against an enemy who doesn’t wear a uniform and can literally strike at any time. The courage of these soldiers, who go to war across the world year after year is inspiring, to say the least.

To say that I am only a teacher to those who are serving in the military would be a lie. The truth is that I have learned so many things from my own students during my time as an instructor that they have literally changed the course of my life in the most positive of ways possible.

In the Modern Army Combatives Course we have what is called the Option 3 drill. During this drill the soldier must close the gap with their opponent (representing the enemy) utilizing the techniques taught to them during the course. Their opponent however will not just be standing there; they will be throwing punches while the soldier is trying to close the gap between them.

The purpose of this drill is the key to so many things in life that it should be done in every martial arts school in America. The purpose of the Option 3 drill is to give the soldier the skills to close the gap between themselves and an opponent who is trying to punch them as many times as possible. It also gives them the confidence to know that they can take a shot. All in all, it is a great opportunity for them to learn how to finish a fight with an enemy who is trying to kill them!

As I was climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, I had one morning where I was watching the sunrise and simply enjoying the peace that I found there. And that’s when I began thinking about the Option 3 drill. While thinking about it, I began to realize that the drill can be applied to our Christian lives.

I have heard people say that sin separates us from God, that God can’t look at sin, or that God in His holiness must judge us. We have been told a host of other horrible things about His nature and character that simply aren’t true as well.

In the Garden of Eden, when our first parents sinned and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, it was rebellion against God. We all know the story well, but what occurred to me is that right in the middle of that drama of sin and rebellion God closes the gap. God comes into the Garden on His daily walk looking for Adam and Eve, and he knew fully well what had happened.

God pursuing them is the perfect example of how he demonstrates true courage by closing the gap with those who have rebelled against him.

God isn’t scared by my sin, your sin, or the sin of the whole world. He closes the gap and engages us right where we are at even though we are ready to throw blows at him.

His courage doesn’t stop in the Garden. God further shows us courage when He closed the gap and finished the fight by sending His son Jesus to ultimately die on the cross for us, effectively ending that distance between Him and us for all of eternity.

I don’t know where you are at today, but I know that God is there closing the gap, pursuing you, engaging you, and unafraid of your sin and junk.

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John Renken

A self proclaimed “scrapper” since childhood, John Renken grew up with a burning interest in physical challenges and a strong competitive spirit which has led him to develop quite an impressive reputation in the professional fighting community. Reaching the pinnacle of his career, Renken now has over 68 professional mixed martial arts and boxing matches under his belt and many first place titles spanning three different continents. A former Satanist, Renken’s life has taken many interesting twists and turns along the way to redemption. He now pastors a church called Freedom Church and writes about topics of interest in our country.