|Publisher:||Tyndale House Publishers|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)|
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SEAL OF GODTHE PATH IS NARROW ... BUT THE REWARD IS GREAT
By CHAD WILLIAMS DAVID THOMAS
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Chad Williams
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHINKING BIG
We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9
* * *
"I WANT TO become a Navy SEAL."
Dad didn't say anything immediately, but his facial expression did.
Are you really serious?
This was the most important conversation I had ever had with my dad. We talked for forty-five minutes, perhaps an hour, with me sitting on my parents' bed and him sitting at his desk next to me. It felt like we talked forever.
The more we talked, the more Dad could see how serious I was.
Dad is the studious type. He considers all the options, then makes well-thought-out, informed decisions.
I definitely didn't inherit that trait from him.
Dad wanted me to spend another year in college and take more time to think about what I wanted to be when I grew up. He pointed out the reasons why he believed I was rushing into my decision:
"You didn't stick with baseball."
"You didn't stick with skateboarding."
"You didn't stick with sport fishing."
"You're not good with authority—and you want to go into the military?"
I didn't tell Dad that I had known I wanted to become a SEAL for all of a few days now. Or that I had reached my decision while spinning my truck in 360s across an empty parking lot at my college, where I had started the morning by drinking and smoking marijuana. Or that after I decided that morning to become a SEAL, I had skipped all my classes. Again.
That conversation with Dad ended like most conversations with my parents—on my terms. I marched out of the bedroom and down the hallway, dismayed once more that I wasn't being trusted. That my judgment was being doubted. That I was being doubted.
I didn't need anyone else to doubt me, because I was already doubting myself.
I was beginning to feel like a loser. The money I had made from sport fishing and filming skateboard commercials was running out. I was making bad grades, and I was sick of college. I was quickly becoming just another guy fresh out of high school who drank, smoked weed, and went surfing. Once the popular, thrill-seeking life of every party, I now feared I wouldn't amount to anything.
I needed to do something big. And nothing sounded bigger than becoming a Navy SEAL.
I'd considered becoming an Alaskan crab fisherman or a coal miner because I had heard those were two of the world's most dangerous occupations. But the SEALs sounded far more interesting. They shot exotic weapons; they were demolitions experts. They jumped out of airplanes into combat, and they conducted covert underwater operations.
SEa, Air, and Land. That's why they were called SEALs. They did it all, and they did it everywhere.
My mind was made up. And all my life, when I had set a goal in my mind, nothing and no one could stop me.
I had, however, developed a habit of stopping myself.
ALL OR NOTHING
My dad was right that I hadn't stuck with baseball, skateboarding, or sport fishing. In my mind, though, I hadn't quit or given up on any of those. Instead, I reasoned with myself, I had simply grown tired of them and had moved on to the next thrill.
I was always a competitive kid, and baseball was my first sport. I started playing in T-ball leagues and made the all-star teams as I progressed through the different age levels. I pitched and played shortstop, and every day after my dad got off work, he and I would jump the fence to a schoolyard behind our house. Until the sun went down, I would pitch to Dad, and he would hit me ground balls. Or he would pitch to me so I could practice my batting.
When my brother, Todd, became old enough, he joined us too. It's a good thing Todd was two years younger than me, because he turned out to be extremely talented. Despite the age difference, he was right behind me talentwise, pushing me. Except being the best wasn't as important to Todd as it was to me. Winning or losing didn't make or break his day. The best way to describe the difference between us in sports is that Todd loved to win and I hated to lose.
I tried out for our high school baseball team as a freshman. I did well during the tryouts but didn't make the roster. "You're just not big enough for the team," the coach told me. I weighed only ninety-nine pounds at the time.
The next year the coach remembered my tryout and offered me a spot on the team. I declined. By that point I had moved full bore into skateboarding.
For a while, I had been torn between baseball and skateboarding and had a difficult time deciding which I wanted to spend more time doing. An unexpected meeting helped make my decision.
One day I was doing some skateboarding tricks at Seal Beach, less than ten miles up the Pacific Coast Highway from our home in Huntington Beach, California. Beatle Rosecrans, a big name in skateboarding, was in the area for a professional competition. He saw some of my tricks and came over to introduce himself. That meeting and my skill level eventually led to a sponsorship from the sports equipment company Vans that kept me in free shoes, clothes, and skateboard equipment for the next few years.
Baseball was officially in the rearview mirror and fading.
The Vans sponsorship boosted my popularity. I had their newest shoes before anyone else at school could purchase them in stores, and mine came free. I wasn't just a part of the in-crowd. The in-crowd hung out around me.
As my skateboarding progressed, I became a professional amateur of sorts. In addition to the goodies from Vans, I got to take a couple of all-expenses-paid, out-of-state trips with an extreme sports team, performing choreographed routines with in-line skaters and bikers. That was a blast. We would show off our tricks on half-pipe ramps and tabletop launch ramps while music pulsated in the background.
I remember one really cool stunt. One of the bikers would tow me up a ramp. I would launch into the air. Then another biker would be launched over me while he performed a backflip.
The crowds ate up our shows, and I ate up their attention. I was the team's only teenager—not yet old enough to own a driver's license, but traveling across the country with a group of high-level extreme athletes in their twenties and thirties. It was exciting to be the young gun on the team.
Skateboarding also led me into television commercials. I made eight different commercials, performing with a skateboard in all of them.
One was a SONIC commercial in which I skateboarded past an elderly man and startled him. "Hey, you little hotdogger!" he yelled at me, and then a carhop delivered a SONIC hot dog to him.
I even had lines in a couple of commercials—like the one for Go-GURT, a yogurt product from Yoplait that squeezed out of a tube. For that shoot, I did a few tricks while a young boy watched in awe. He was eating yogurt from a cup, and I was skateboarding with my tube of Go-GURT. I grabbed an extra tube, tossed it to him, and said my line. "Hey," I told the boy, "lose the spoon."
Another speaking commercial pushed Nestlé's new Itzakadoozie frozen treats. I was about fifteen or sixteen at the time, but I was small for my age and looked younger. So I played someone about eleven or twelve alongside a girl about that age. Through trick photography, we looked like we were skating on the frozen snacks. "What is it?" we both asked as a close-up of the treats was shown. "Itzakadoozie!"
I handled those easy lines well enough, but it was my skateboarding skills that had brought the opportunity to be in the commercials. I made good money, too, which was put aside for me until I turned eighteen. Then it helped me buy a brand-new black 2002 Toyota Tundra pickup with big wheels, aftermarket rims, and a suspension lift. That certainly didn't diminish my popularity.
The ability to do the commercials was a definite perk in those days, but it was the skateboarding itself that I lived for. Competitive skateboarding is the proper name for the sport because it's as much about one-upmanship as anything else. When a competitor broke out a new trick, I felt like I not only had to learn his trick and perform it better, but also come up with an original trick of my own that topped his.
It takes countless hours on a board to develop the high level of muscle memory needed to perform the best tricks, and I had the will to consistently put in the hours. I would practice in the morning before school, then as soon as I returned home from school I would grab my board and practice until nine or ten o'clock, continuing under the streetlights after the sun went down.
There is a reason I didn't include homework in that schedule: I didn't do my homework.
TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL
My disdain for losing a skateboarding competition definitely contributed to my poor performance in school, but it wasn't the main reason. Truth was, I strongly disliked academic work and did everything I could to avoid it.
I prided myself on being able to write a complete book report without actually reading the book. I would skim the first sentence of each paragraph because I hated reading. When I didn't feel like skimming, I would cheat. I googled my way through my share of book reports.
Somehow I passed most of my classes—barely. I made mostly Cs and Ds, and that was good enough for me.
One time on a placement exam—one of those Scantron tests where you pencil in the answer bubbles for multiple-choice questions—I went through and randomly filled in circles. I didn't read a single question on the test. I don't know what my score was on that one, but it was poor enough to have me placed into a special development class for students who needed extra help learning how to read. Of course, I could read just fine and didn't belong in that class, but I didn't care.
Part of the learning process was for class members to read aloud. We did it "popcorn style." One student would read aloud until the teacher said, "Enough. Popcorn someone else." That student would point to another student, who would pick up the reading at that point. When the assigned reading was completed, we were given free time for the rest of class.
I was a popular popcorn target because I was good at reading aloud. A student would popcorn me, and I would read as fast as I could until the teacher stopped me, then I'd popcorn someone else. He or she would read for a while, then when our teacher said to stop, I'd get picked to read again. To add some life into the boring texts, I read my parts in different voices. The other students cracked up every time.
Finally, after about a month or so, I was moved out of the special development class. But it was a fun month, and it provided me an opportunity to become popular with a different crowd. And in those days I really craved being the center of attention—no matter what it took.
I'm sure the kids who weren't in my circle of friends didn't think too much of me, though. I could be mean to kids in what I considered a "lesser" group. For instance, I thought nothing of throwing a slice of pizza at someone in the school cafeteria. It was an effective way to draw laughs.
I never started fights or anything like that. Remember, I was small for my age. But I had big friends, and I was a big talker. I knew that, if need be, my buddies could finish with their size what I could start with my mouth. We never wound up in anything more than a harmless high school tiff, but I look back now and wonder how I could have been such a jerk.
Most of the problems I caused in school were what you might call disruptive behavior. I knew well the routes from my classrooms to the principal's office. Mostly, I would get sent there for cutting up in class too much.
My junior year at Marina High School in Huntington Beach, the principal warned my parents that I was down to my last chance. One more foul-up, he said, and I would be booted from the school.
Maybe my parents were fed up. Or maybe they didn't think I could keep a clean record the rest of the school year. Whatever the reason, they decided to take me out of Marina and put me into a Christian school—Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. My parents were Christians, and I guess they hoped that a Christian school would help straighten me out.
I was a poor fit at Calvary Chapel High School because I felt different from the rest of the students. I did like the fact that they had a surfing team. I enjoyed surfing, although skateboarding was still my main sport. Skateboarding, with the commercials and freebies from Vans, is what made me popular and gave me my identity.
Most of my time at Calvary Chapel was spent trying to get kicked out so I could rejoin my friends at Marina. I acted up in class, disrespected my teachers, and didn't do my homework. I constantly hounded my parents, too, telling them I didn't want to attend that school.
"You guys shouldn't have taken me out of Marina. That's where my friends are," I would say, trying to put a guilt trip on them. "How could you do this to me?"
The final semester of my senior year, my parents relented and said they would take me out of the Christian school.
Yes! I thought when they told me. I pulled that one off. (Calvary Chapel teachers probably celebrated as much as I did.)
My grand plan hit a snag, though. My old high school wouldn't take me back. So my parents enrolled me in Huntington Beach High, and I finished out my final semester there. I didn't get to graduate with my friends, but at least I was out of Calvary Chapel.
I did make one decision during my final semester of high school that turned out for good, though. On a trip to Disneyland with a couple of friends, we snuck into the park for free through a secret location. Once we were in the park, my friends and I took a seat on a ledge to begin planning out the time we had left. At that moment I noticed a girl who caught my eye like no one else ever had. I watched intently as she got in line with a friend to ride Space Mountain.
Without saying anything to my two buddies, I jumped to my feet and ran as fast as I could to get in line immediately behind her. The wait for the ride was about an hour. I figured that would give me plenty of time to work up the courage to talk to this girl, who I was basically stalking.
Her name was Aubrey. She was three years younger than I was. And let me tell you, it was love at first sight! As it turned out, she lived in Huntington Beach too. We spent the rest of the evening together at the park, and I still remember the spot where I made my first move to hold her hand. After exchanging phone numbers, we parted ways, but I knew it wouldn't be the last time I saw her. There was something special about this girl.
I was right. The next thing I knew, I was asking her something I had never asked anyone before: "Will you be my girlfriend?"
Periodically throughout my high school years, I worked as a deckhand on sport-fishing boats and continued to do so into my first year of college. I would go out on multiple-day trips, fishing for albacore, bluefin, and yellowfin tuna. My parents would drop me off at the boat on Friday night, our crew would head out onto the Pacific Ocean, we'd fish all weekend, and my parents would pick me up Monday morning back at the harbor. Our boat would dock around five in the morning, and I would be on my way to school by seven thirty. Sometimes I still smelled like fish when I walked into school.
To spend three nights out on a fishing boat at that age was exciting. It wasn't anything near as challenging as what you might see today on the Discovery Channel show Deadliest Catch, which chronicles the lives of Alaskan crab fishermen, but there were definitely some similarities. For instance, we would sleep only two or three hours per night. Looking back, I can see that learning to deal with sleep deprivation on those fishing boats helped me in my SEAL training later.
During summertime, when I wasn't in school, I spent even more time on the fishing boats. Sometimes we would take fifteen-day trips, come home for a day off, then set out for another fifteen days of fishing.
Excerpted from SEAL OF GOD by CHAD WILLIAMS DAVID THOMAS Copyright © 2012 by Chad Williams. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Thinking Big 1
Chapter 2 Decisions, Decisions 25
Chapter 3 My Mentor 41
Chapter 4 Clearing the Final Hurdle 63
Chapter 5 Bring on BUD/S 79
Chapter 6 Hell Week Begins 105
Chapter 7 We Did It 123
Chapter 8 Answering the Bell 145
Chapter 9 Finally-a SEAL! 161
Chapter 10 The Night Everything Changed 175
Chapter 11 Light and Dark 197
Chapter 12 SEAL for Christ 223
Chapter 13 Covered 245
Chapter 14 A New Season 263
About the Authors 283
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I first heard about this book on Facebook. A few of my friends had posted about it, and since my dad is a Navy veteran, I thought it sounded interesting, so I went ahead and purchased it. I started reading it, and it immediately drew me in. SEAL of God is the autobiography of Chad Williams, an ex-Navy SEAL. In it, he tells about his decision to become a SEAL, his training, his years as a SEAL, and, most importantly, his acceptance of Christ as LORD of his life. He shares how his experiences as a SEAL helped him better understand Christ's love and sacrifice. Chad did an excellent job in writing this book. He pulls you into his story. A good portion of the book shares his experiences during SEAL training, and that was absolutely riveting. He shares how his lack of feeling fulfilled once he reached the top of the ladder and became a SEAL led to his conversion to Christ, and eventually, to him entering the ministry. This was an excellent book. It's most definitely worth reading, whether or not you have any interest in the Navy or the SEALS. I read the entire book in just two days because I couldn't put it down. I would highly recommend it to anyone.
This book has it all, good story, good writing, happy, sad, tension, and best of all redemption! I can not recommend this highly enough! Please read it for yourself! Read it out loud to the family! this is a great book. Chad Williams has a future as a writer! Bought the book myself, read it, loved it, shared it!
Chad Williams is an aimless kid - always on to the 'next' thing. Successful one minute and making horrible decisions the next. Going all out - and then burning out. He has excelled in a number of pursuits, but always moves on to something else....so when he tells his parents he is going to be a Navy SEAL, you can imagine their reaction. His dad finds someone to train him (US Navy SEAL Scott Helvenston), and Chad so respects their relationship that he takes the workouts very seriously and subsequently begins to change. Just before Chad is scheduled to begin basic training he turns on the television (to begin his workout!) and sees a newsflash that his mentor and friend has been brutally murdered - ambushed - in Iraq. Now more than ever, Chad is determined to become a SEAL and make Scott proud. Chad details the super-crazy-extreme-hard-really hard-life changing things one must go through to become a SEAL. He also shares his own complete life 180, committing to follow Christ which transforms him in so many other important ways. I loved reading Chad's life story. This is a world I don't have much experience in and I just found it fascinating, as well as inspirational. Please read this book!
I found this book to be a wonderful read. I've read a little about the training special forces personnel like Navy SEALs go through, but not a personal account such as this. Chad is very open about so many experiences in his life I'd probably be uncomfortable sharing about mine. The way he bares his heart, and lets you see things through his eyes is quite compelling. Even if you are not interested in the military, but just want to see the difference Christ can make in someone's life, SEAL of God would be well worth the read.
The path toward salvation is never the same for 2 people. Chad Williams shares his path that took him through teenage rebellion, SEAL training, serving our country, and now full time ministry. More than half the book is about SEAL training. It is not until the second half of the book that Chad starts to think about God and his relationship with Him. I enjoyed both halves of the story and wonder where God is leading Chad now.
I heard about this book from a high school boy who was in a class about which I was writing a news story. After reading it, I felt it was a good book for almost anyone. It did not contain any bad language, and it shared a man's view of the world as he grew and matured. It would be a sort of example for what a young man today might face and have to make decisions about in his own life. The parts about being a Navy SEAL were interesting as well as the thoughts and situations that led to his entering the ministry. The book is definitely worth reading. It describes the situations a man faces and how he made choices for his own betterment as well as those around him. It was well written, and I would be pleased to have a son who turned out like Williams did, or even mostly like that. Learning to face the future and make positive decisions, regardless of the circumstances, is probably the most difficult task a person faces in their life and this particular story is one positive example that young people can draw from.
SEAL of God is an excellent story of how a wandering, wayward life can be transformed completely and when least expected. The author uses the first 2/3 of the book to paint a vivid picture of how his life was self-destructing all the while he was experiencing success and achieving his personal and ever-changing goals. In the final 100 pages though he describes how a single night, set out for his own selfish purposes, came to be the turning point in his career and his aspirations. Mr. Williams is able to tell openly of his highlights and failures, each of significance, and lead the reader to turn the page looking for more of what happens next in his journey. SEAL of God is an autobiography of sorts, a personal tale of survival in many respects, and always a story of a young's dreams coming true ... sometime of his world, and ultimately of His world.
This is the best book ever by far.
Great meaning worth the time
Good book, but it kind of jumps around a lot.
One of the best books I have read lately.
This is a very fast read. I have never read a book in 3 days, but I couldn't put it down. Would give it 10 stars if I could. God Bless
Great story with not your typical ending
A truly good envoloping book that shows a man going form rags to the riches of jesus througout his life time
Such a well writen book! I only wish it was longer! You had me feeling the cold water and holding my breath. I know that most people would love this book. I hope they read it.
Is it a good book
I found this book to be very engaging. I didn't want to put it down and, in fact, hardly did before finishing it. I came to read this book at a time in my life when I needed a boost, a dose of inspiration. This story did that for me. I felt like I was right there with them in Seal training! Great read, great story!
A very inspirational tale of growing up in American and learning what it takes to make adult decisions. The challenges Chad experiences is not far from those the majority of American youth experience. He makes a lot of bad choices in his journey and then shows how that with the right choices you can over come anything.
I did enjoy this book despite a few issues that I have. With the exception of the parts concerning SEAL training, the story was disjointed, jumping back and forth with little cohesion. The writing style is simple which actually helps in keeping the story rolling. Chad's story is uncommon at least from what I have seen. Most people do NOT pour everything into whatever it is they are trying to do, so I think quite a few people will have trouble relating to the author. His conversion and subsequent studies are also uncommon. Most Christians take years to read the Bible if they do at all. All in all though, "SEAL of God" is an enjoyable and easy read. You will find inspiration in Chad's story even if you, like me, have trouble relating to him as a person.