End Game

Read this featured blog post by Pastor Tony Rea

End Game


I Can (series)

When I entered the Detroit Police Academy in May, 1975, at the age of 20, I had never fired a hand gun. In my late teens, I did some small game hunting with a shotgun (rabbits and pheasants), with my good buddy Pete Pappas, but I never used or even held a pistol of any kind in my hand.

Needless to say, the first day at the police shooting range did not go well for me. I was paired with a little 100 pound, 5’ 4” police cadet (Lane); and during the very first target shooting drill, she outscored me 30 to 0. My firearms instructor thought that was rather amusing, so he called the entire academy class over to view our two targets. He then proceeded to humiliate me beyond words. He also announced Lane and I would be shooting partners for the remainder of the training. It was at that point I determined to become proficient with a handgun. (Did I mention previously that I used to be rather competitive?)

Sixteen weeks later, when the academy training was complete, I was the best shot in my class of 44 students. I graduated from the academy as a “distinguished expert” with a handgun. The Detroit Police had four levels of pistol qualification: distinguished expert (highest), expert, sharpshooter, and marksman; and let me humbly say, not too many cadets earned a distinguished expert badge.

Well, a few years later the detective bureau lieutenant decided to put together a team of shooters from the 13th Precinct to compete in the Police Chief’s Trophy Match. This event was a yearly, prestigious, pistol shooting competition, and every precinct and special unit dreamed of hoisting the coveted Police Chief’s Trophy for the entire year. It was my understanding the 13th Precinct had never done very well in the match. Uniformed precinct teams seldom won the event. The trophy was usually retained by vice, narcotics, or one of the other specialized, undercover units.

Somehow the lieutenant found out I was pretty good with a handgun, and he invited me to be a member of his five-person team. I accepted. The match consisted of two full days of practice shooting at the outdoor range (Rouge River), and then on the third day the shooting competition itself was held. On the first day of activity, before a single round was fired, our team captain held a little meeting and asked the team a few questions: “What’s the plan here? What is it we are attempting to accomplish? Do we simply get some practice shooting in, take three days off from the streets, eat a few hot dogs and party a bit… What’s the end game?”

Being young and rather naive, I raised my hand and said, “I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d like to win the event. I’d like to beat the entire police department and take the trophy back to number 13.” Everyone liked the idea; and that became the goal, that was the mission—win it all.

You don’t know how badly I wish I could tell you we won the Police Chief’s Trophy Match that year. Truth is, we did not win, we missed by the slightest of margins and came in second place. We did however have the highest score of any other precinct team. Of the 150 plus shooters, the top score was 201 out of a possible 210. I shot 197. That was the single best score I had fired in that type of competition.

Following the match, my lieutenant took me aside and in his own words, tried to compliment me. He said, “That was some good shooting, and I appreciate your efforts.” He went on to say, “If you worked at it, you could be the best shooter in this department.” 

I was tempted to tell him I had other more pressing interests but decided to save the preaching for another time. I simply said, “Thank you.”

With regard to your personal faith walk and relationship with God, what’s your plan? What is it you’re attempting to accomplish? Attend a few church events, be generous when you can, live a decent life, and do your best to show kindness to the people around you? Is that the mission? Is that your end game? I think there’s a whole lot more to it than just that.

Matthew 13:44-46

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then, in his joy, went and sold all he had and bought that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

1 Corinthians 9:24-27a (NLT)

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.

Colossians 3:1-4

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.