But I reckon this story is more about what got left behind.
I’ve been writing and posting stories and pictures of the Gulf War. Call it therapy. Call it walk down memory lane.
One thing it’s shown me is how much I’ve changed as a person.
Here’s a simple example from my “Personal” packing list.
Now the Army had stuff we had to take, but there was stuff we took. Here’s just a few items from my list.
Razor, extra blades, and shaving cream. You get the idea, personal hygiene stuff.
Now for the luxury items. I wrote a few down that I took.
Notice the question mark after the Bible.
There’s a reason it’s there. I never intended to take one.
To make matters even more interesting, I don’t remember owning one during that period of time.
If there’s a way to show the gulf between me and God that I’d dug, that was it. I’m flying into a war zone. I might be in front of the lines (MPs have an annoying habit of ending up there). And I was doing nothing about fixing that gulf between me and God.
The only defense I’ve got is I was at low ebb in my life. Too much stuff had happened and I couldn’t take my focus off what had happened.
Life had robbed me of that relationship I had with God. By beating us up, it causes us to focus on the problems rather than the One who can sustain us through the problem.
I desperately needed to get my life together but didn’t know how.
There’s an old proverb that goes “when the student is ready, the Master will appear.” My Master was about to appear.
I had been walking around for some time looking a little like Wiley Coyote. You know, the Coyote, from the Road Runner. He always chases the Road Runner, and when the Road Runner hangs a right, he keeps going straight, runs off the edge of a cliff, and then get’s that “this is going to hurt” look when he starts to fall down the canyon.
I was there. My life was in freefall and I couldn’t stop it.
As it was, I ended up taking a Bible with me.
But it wasn’t by design.
We’d boarded the buses on a cold day in December. The bus drove us to the airport at Nuremberg, to a small out of the way building. Outside, a large Pan-Am 747 waited for us.
Cots had been set up, and we were either sitting or lying on them.
I remember the Chaplin came around and was handing out Gideon Bibles. It was the New Testament and Psalms only, but the cover is what caught my eye. It was Army camo colored and I thought it would make a great souvenir. I put it into my pocket, and we boarded the plane.
There’s an old statement that goes, “A Bible that is falling apart belongs to someone who isn’t.”
I’m happy to report that Bible didn’t make it back.
It became a lifeline I was holding onto. Through the cold nights. Through the blistering days. Through the uncertainty, and through the minefields, it kept me hoping and clinging to promises from a God I didn’t fully understand or know yet.
There’s another expression that goes, “Those who seek God, will find him.”
It certainly worked for me. I talk about this in my first book, The Cross and the Badge. Will reflects the story to his Pastor.
Like my central character, I’m happy I found Him. Whatever life passes at me, He will most certainly sustain me.
Today, If I were going anywhere, the Bible is top of my list of things to pack.