The Corps, The Cross, & The Mirror – Reflections of Faith

A Sinner’s Prayer

With a cigarette in one hand and a beer can in the other, I gazed thoughtfully at my own reflection in my bathroom mirror, wondering what went wrong. My face was thin and pale, with dark circles around my eyes. I stared on, but there were no real answers. Then denial began to fade, and give way to the pain of regret. One bad decision after another had led to this place of despair. To the God I did not know, I whispered, “If You are Who You say You are I need a miracle.” “I’ve made such a mess of my life…if You can do anything with it You can have it.”

Divine Appointment

I prayed that prayer at Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD), Parris Island (PI), SC as a Marine Drill Instructor (DI). I confess there’s a certain swag to being a Marine DI. It’s fast paced and physically grueling, but the training is designed to do one thing – make U.S. Marines. That was my goal April 1989, D.I. Class 4-89.

When I got there, I was highly motivated, and in the best physical conditioning of my life. When things started going south, I couldn’t believe I’d actually volunteered for the aggravation. To some it may have seemed too risky anyway. As a thirty-three year old Staff Sergeant with twelve years in– couldn’t I have found something a little safer? On the flip side, I had only eight years to retirement, it was now or never.

This could be professional suicide though, but every job has its inherent dangers. We can only wait to see if the outcome will be as planned. In this case, the rewards seemed to outweigh the risks. But this was more than a career move–it was a divine appointment. What I did not factor in, was God showing up.

Seemingly, I had picked the venue. But the timing was all God’s. This had been an unexpected encounter. I didn’t know God, and wasn’t looking for Him. So, why would He come? I can only describe it as a rescue mission of love. With my career in crisis, it looked like yet another failure.

But God saw it as an opportunity to heal a lifetime of hurts. That was twenty-four years ago, and I was never the same. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. My prayer is that through my story, you will see the common thread we all share, OUR OWN PERSONAL NEED FOR GOD.

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