Back to Basics (SPORTS)


From the Foxhole to the Pulpit

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world
you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

~ John 16:33 ~

One of the major training events for soldiers in Basic Training is leaning how to shoot and qualify with their assigned personal weapon. Although there are many types of weaponry available and used by the US Army, the primary weapon for soldiers in basic training is the rifle. When I entered the Army, the assigned weapon was the M16A2 Rifle and as a Drill Sergeant, I trained solders to fire and qualified on the M16A3 Rifle. Learning to fire and qualified on a weapon included a lot more than simply picking up a weapon, pointing it down range and squeezing the trigger. Classes included disassembling and assembling, maintenance, proper sight picture, ammunition, loading, unloading, breathing techniques, front and rear sight adjustments, and how to handle weapons malfunctions. All of this and more occurs before a single bullet is fired down range.    

The last set of instructions that I mentioned was teaching soldiers how to handle a weapon malfunction. There are certain steps that a rifleman takes when he squeezes the trigger of a loaded rifle and a round fails to fire. Soldiers are taught to apply the acronym S.P.O.R.T.S. in order to work their way through the malfunction. This acronym stands for SLAP, PULL, OBSERVE, RELEASE, TAP, and SQUEEZE/SHOOT. Should the weapon not fire, the first thing a soldier does is slap upward on the magazine to ensure that it is properly seated into the magazine well. Next, the soldier pulls the charging handle all the way back, observing the ejected case or cartridge and looking into the chamber checking for obstructions. The soldier then releases the charging handle, which feeds a round into the chamber. They will then tap the forward assist to ensure the round is properly seated in place and prepared to be fired. Lastly, squeeze or shoot. Should it not fire again, repeating S.P.O.R.T.S. can be done or further inspections may be needed to determine the cause of the stoppage.

Now, while I am certain that you found this fascinating and educational, you may be wondering what this has to do with John 16:33 and life in general. Let me begin with life in general. All of us go through some tough times now and then. Trials that cause interruptions in our lives. Much like a weapons malfunction, they stop or delay us from accomplishing our task. In John 16:33, Jesus gives to us the following insight: “in this world you will have tribulation…” Not might, maybe, or perhaps; “you will have tribulation…” One of the certainties of life is that there will be trials and tribulations that we must traverse. The good news is that John 16:33 does not end there. Jesus continued; “but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” The implication here is that in Christ, we too will overcome. In Romans 8:37, Paul reminds us that we are more than overcomers, in fact we are more than conquers. James taught that during these times of trials, we need but to ask for wisdom from God (James 1:5).

Perhaps what we need is a handy acronym, to assist us in remembering what to do when we experience a life malfunction. Might I suggest applying S.P.O.R.T.S. to our circumstances. Scripture: spend time in God’s Word, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). Prayer: share with God what you are going through, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:16-18). Observe: look at life for any obstructions/sin, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1: 8). Repent: an absolute must when our sin is revealed to us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Time: we are on the Lord’s timeline, “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7). Share: we do not have to go through these struggles alone, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). When tired and troubled remember the words of Christ; “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” This is the end result of applying S.P.O.R.T.S. during trying times. Let’s get Back to Basics.

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