Sometimes I have to wonder where my life is going. I pretty well think I have that one figured out, but sometimes the why and how can get a little confusing. Looking back over sixty plus years of life it has become clear to me that God has purpose in all we do and experience. At the time we are going through it that may not seem to be the case but it is. Take typing for instance. I took it in high school and was one of only two guys in my class. Now you know my purpose in taking it, but little did I know that down the course of my life that class would open several doors.
First it opened a door to be a clerk temporarily till our unit at Ft. Campbell, KY got a new one. They made me the legal clerk which was very trying. The reason it was trying was that all legal documents had to be error free with no typos. This was before computers and when copies were made using carbon paper. If you made a typo you could not use white out or an eraser to correct it on legal documents. You started over. Many of the documents were several pages long and believe me I filled many file thirteens with my labors. However I got enough done to keep the job for some time. The thing it really taught me was how to read and understand the military regulations and how they were applied. Several years later this would set me free, literally.
The second time it helped me was to become a photo/journalist for the Army in Panama. I was selected for the job because I was a pretty decent photographer and had won a couple of honorable mentions in a post photo competition. My commander saw my pictures and offered me the job of replacing his PIO specialist who was leaving the service as his time was up. I told him I knew nothing about writing. He explained to me he had plenty of clerks he could use to help me write the stories, but he could not train a photographer quickly as it was something you had to have an eye for. Anyhow I ended up taking the job and it was an awesome experience. I answered only to the Battalion Commander. He gave me keys to the post photo lab and a pass to get on any chopper in Panama that had an empty seat. Our units were in the field several days a week, but they got supplies by chopper daily. Usually in the morning and in the evening. I would catch the morning chopper out and spend the day with the troops. Then I would spend the day taking photos, getting information. At supper I would take the evening chopper back to base. Sometimes I would have to spend a couple days with a unit, but I had free rein to go, see, and do whatever I needed to do to get my story.
About nine months into my job I was reading news articles in the Army Times and discovered they had changed some of the regulations governing reenlistment. I had reenlisted for six years just before going to Panama. Well when I did I saw two of my fellow non-commissioned offices denied reenlistment over things they had done clear back when they first came into the Army. They had seventeen years six months and seventeen years nine months and the Army would not let them reenlist. If they had gone over the eighteen year mark they could have stayed. The policy was that those over with over eighteen years service were allowed to complete their twenty years for retirement. During my time in Panama I had a couple incidents that would be considered less than professional and put me in the same boat as my friends. My enlistment would end with me having served seventeen years and ten months. After pondering the matter I decided to use the Army Regulations to my benefit. My times as a legal clerk came in handy. The Army was instituting an "up or out" policy. If you did not make a certain grade by a certain time you would be forced to leave the military for the good of the service. Those less than professional incidents had put me in a position where I qualified for the up or out program. So I decided to voluntarily, for the good of the service, request to be discharged from the military. My senior non-commissioned officers told me I was wasting my time and that it would never go through. That I was stuck doing my time. Well about ninety days later I was a civilian. That time as a legal clerk did literally set me free. I have no regrets over what I did. My logic was that if I got out and went to college on the GI Bill I would be able to go to school. It meant I would be finishing school about the time I would have gotten out of the Army. I figured that put me that much ahead of the game. It worked as planned. However had I not taken that typing class in high school and a couple of correspondence photography classes who knows where it would have gone.
That was not the only time events in my past worked to my favor. Earlier in my career I had reenlisted to go to France. I went to a place called Evreux, France. It was about an hour from Paris and a really neat place to be stationed. My problem was I was not aware of world affairs at that time and did not realize that the French President Charles de Gaulle had ordered all American military to get out of France. Well after about ninety days I left with the advance party to Germany. At that time Germany did not appeal to me and shortly after arriving in Germany I volunteered for Vietnam. That story is told in another of my blogs. " How not to go down a hill" While going to Vietnam may not have been the smartest move in my life. I did learn to drive a truck in Vietnam, OJT and after finishing college managed to make a living for many years driving a truck. God has a sense of humor I know. Cause after returning to the states for about nine months I was shipped back to Germany. Not only did I go back to Germany. I went back to the same unit, to the same barracks, to the same room and to the same bed and wall locker. The day I got there was April 1st. So yes God does have a sense of humor. Also after a tour in Vietnam, Germany did not really seem like that bad of a place.
To tell all the times that the Lord used things from my past to open doors would require a book and I am working on that occasionally. I took the meat of the book and published it on this blog as a free book in seven parts. It is titled "A Little Further Down The Path" I invite you to read it. The parts I published are
a Bible Study on the End Times that happened over almost forty years of my life. The book went from 170+ pages to about 44 pages by eliminating the biographical parts. I did leave in my testimony as it kind of tells how I came to write it at all. The whole point of this story is that even though it may not seem like it at the time God's hand is in all that happens to us. Sometimes we may not see it till much later in our lives. The one verse I have learned to truly believe is. "You reap, what you sow." In my humble opinion you can take that verse to the bank. So do not get discouraged, just thank God for getting you through it. Having technically been dead once in my life already, it beats the alternative.