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Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Tale of Life and Death, My Last Post?

                                             Hard at work in the field in Panama

                              A Tale of Life and Death, My Last Post?

     Third time is a charm they say.  It saved my life at least once.  If one of the people in the operating room when I had my heart attack had not said it, I might not be setting here writing this.  That was clear back in January 2004. Tomorrow I will be going to get my third defibrillator since that historic event.  So just in case I am not so lucky this third time I thought maybe I would share why I write in the first place.  The purpose of this post is to show that God is in the details in our life and hopefully to show others that he is still working in our lives.  Update...All went well by the Grace of God, Lord Willing I will continue writing posts.

     There are four reasons I write.  First and most important, my Mother encouraged me too.  Second is because I entered a photo contest in Panama and my Battalion Commanding Officer gave me a job as a photo/journalist, based on my photography, and ordered me to write. Third my daughter wrote a blog while she was finishing her college Spanish requirements in Costa Rica. I saw it and liked it and she encouraged me to write stories.  So my grandkids might someday read them and know more about me.  The fourth reason is I like to write and it allows me to share some of the experiences I have had following God during my life so somebody else may be blessed as I have been.

    There is one difference between this third time and the first one.  I did not see it coming and did not even know what was happening, but I was at peace with God and would have been happy with the outcome regardless.  This time I know it is coming and I thank the Lord for these last twelve years.  Especially for blessing me with seven grandchildren and two great grand-daughters, and they truly are. A few years ago I was reading a verse in the Bible that says, “He that does not take care of his own is worse than an infidel” Then I looked up the word infidel and it means a person that does not know God.  It changed how I look at things in life, especially my relationships to people and doing things for those we love, or at least are supposed to love.

    The following Testimony was taken from the start of a book I was trying to write which never really got finished though pieces of it are all over my blog posts, but nowhere in its entirety, I pray you enjoy and it doesn’t bore you to death.

       My youngest daughter Glenda's dog, Forrest Gump, She left him to me in her 
        Will  She went home to be with the Lord in August 2010 just before her                         thirty- third birthday and after fighting a seven year battle with a brain tumor.  
        She left behind three sons.  So no matter how it turns out tomorrow I get to be                with ones I care about

                                               A TESTIMONY

      Do dates and times mean anything? Well the 22nd of January, 2004 will be important to me as long as I continue to draw a breath of air.  It was literally the first day of the rest of my life.  If one has been dead and managed to come back, that tends to get your attention. Actually, this was one of the last major events in my life.  Is it right to start at the end?  It doesn’t really seem to matter. Lots of dates seem to be important to us. Our birthday, the day we got married, and the day we got out of the Army could all be important to us.

       When you wake up and don’t really know where you are, with a doctor you don’t know from Adam leaning over you and listening to your heart with a stethoscope, it might seem a little strange.  When he asks you how you are feeling, the only witty answer you can come up with is, “I feel like I have a six hundred pound gorilla on my chest.” It really gets strange when the doctor starts talking about being lucky to be alive. Then he says something about having lost you twice and putting some kind of things in your heart. The doctor then asks you questions like you are some kind of computer. “Do you drink?” “Do you smoke?”  “When did you quit?”  “How much did you smoke?”  “You need to lose some weight,” he says. Finally, here is, something I can give a positive answer to. “I have lost eighty pounds over the last six months,” I say, trying to smile. “That’s good,” he says, “If you hadn’t, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation.” I am thinking, “I thought that was the whole point of losing weight.” My attitude is starting to get a little sour when all of a sudden the light comes on to what he is saying.  Having lost all that weight actually did help save my life!  All of a sudden, I feel a little bit better about all this.  However, the gorilla returned to his seat, and I went back to sleep.

    The next time I remember waking up my wife and daughters were standing by my bed. I don’t really know how long I slept, but it was about eight or nine in the morning when the ambulance took me to the hospital in Baltimore. So, considering my family came from Indiana, it must have been awhile.

    Who am I that I am writing a book about my experiences and my understanding of them?  Very simply, I am nothing and nobody. So, what makes me feel I have something to say that may interest you?  How about a common bond, in that we are both seeking to know the will of God in our lives!  At least it is my hope that is our common bond.

        Why start with a testimony?  Well, first, it gives you an insight about me and where I am coming from.  It is not my desire to have you waste your time reading something you think is just a nice story.  However, I will try to tell it in such a way that you don’t have to use toothpicks to hold your eyes open. Yet, I want you to know that everything said in this book is the truth to the best of my knowledge. If you begin to believe what I am saying is not the truth, then I encourage you to quit reading this and spend your time more productively by truly seeking the presence of God in your life.

       Millions of people have heart attacks every year. What makes mine so special or different? Maybe it was the circumstances. One thing is that only by the grace of God, did I had the wisdom to ask the people at the business where my situation occurred to call an ambulance for me, because more than once in my life I had shrugged things off physically till I literally woke up in a hospital.

      Initially, I had broken out in a cold sweat.  That happens to people who have hypoglycemic attacks because they do not eat properly. Your sugar levels get all out of whack.  Driving a truck and eating regular meals sometimes is not easy to do. Often you are not near a place to get something, and you wind up spending longer than you intend waiting to get loaded or unloaded. However, that morning I had eaten a normal meal. Thinking it was still just an imbalance issue, I went to the cab of my truck and got a swig of pop and some soda crackers which usually worked.

        Upon returning to the inside of my trailer, it quickly became apparent something else was wrong, as I could not get my breath.  I mean, I could breathe, but it was like I was not getting any oxygen.  Finally, things started into a slow spin, and the urge to go to the bathroom became overwhelming. With much effort, somehow I managed to get the couple of hundred feet to the office and asked the people there to call me an ambulance. It was a just a matter of minutes till the ambulance arrived.  The ambulance was on the way back to the hospital from a previous run and was only a couple of blocks away when they got the call. Much of this I found out after the fact.

      One of the things I do remember is how nice the ambulance crew was upon their arrival.  Getting on the cart was the last thing I remembered till a doctor at the hospital asked me to sign a paper and told me he was performing a procedure to help me, because I was having a heart attack. If I signed the paper, I do not remember.  The next memory I had was the doctor standing over me with the stethoscope.
     Coincidence number two was that I had only been about a mile and a half from Saint Agnes hospital in Baltimore. If you are going to have a heart attack, that is a good place to be.  The reason is that Saint Agnes was the first hospital in America to come up with the idea of a specialized cardiac care facility.  They also have some of the top people in the field of cardiac care.

     The third thing that saved my life was that the actual cardiac arrest did not start till I was in the emergency room at the hospital. The doctor informed me that if I had not been where I was, when I was, we would not have been having our conversation. He said if the attack had started in the warehouse, they could not have gotten me to the hospital in time to save my life,  even with the short distance involved.

   Supposedly, the final thing that saved my life was that, during the emergency, they had to hit me with the defibrillator paddles. They lost me twice.  As I understand it, the first time they brought me back with a single hit.  However, the second time they hit me twice, and I did not come back.  They thought I was gone; and someone said “Third time is a charm,” and they hit me again.  Fortunately, it worked.  The burn marks from the paddles were one of the worst side effects of the whole ordeal.  However, if you consider the alternative, it was not that big of a deal.

        Several days later, my family and I left Baltimore and flew into Louisville, Kentucky on our way home.  This small part of my life came full circle to me as I looked down at the C-130 airplanes on the tarmac at the airport. The C-130 had been central to several of the main events in my life.  It was almost as if I heard an audible voice say to me “You have had your time; now it is my time.”  God had given me fifty-seven years of life, and now He was calling a promise I had made due.

        Why me; why now; why at all?  God does not have to answer to anyone, especially a man who has run from Him most of his life. He has spoken through the mouth of a donkey. That is in Numbers 22.  He has used people who were the epitome of evil to get “His will” done.  Also, just as I know, I could die before I get this done; God will get His message out with or without me.  It is vanity and pride to think God needs us to do anything.  However, I believe the things I have come to understand and see, speak to this day and age in a special way and with a special purpose. Yet, God’s Word has always been special.  Soon and very soon, mankind will come to a very vivid understanding of that.

       Yes, I believe we are in the end time.  The next part of my testimony will test your ability to accept things as they are. Some will discard what I have to say quickly and say God does not speak to people anymore. That is their privilege.  However, when I read the Bible, I find that Jesus marveled at two things while He was here on earth.  He marveled at total blind, unquestioning faith, and He marveled at unbelief.

               First, I would like to say something about unbelief, because I think it is the most deadly thing that can happen to someone. When someone rationalizes why they do not believe something or why God cannot do something, they are treading on very, very thin ice, as far as I am concerned. Yes, there are some things God cannot do. Before you write me off as nuts, at least read the next paragraph and see if you do not agree with me. Only a faithful person will agree.

     First, God cannot lie. If God says it, that makes it truth. Second, God cannot steal, as everything in the whole universe belongs to Him to start with.  Thirdly, and finally, God cannot cheat, because He is the One who makes the rules to start with. So there are three things God cannot do.  That may be playing with words, but it is the truth as far as I see it.

     That is as good of a place to start in my estimation as any. When asked what truth was, Jesus replied, in John 8:32 “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”  If one comes to understand that Jesus was God’s Word made flesh, then you also know that without knowing Him, God’s Word, you cannot know God.  John 17:17 makes it clear we are “sanctified through the truth, and His Word is truth.” Too many, that may sound adversarial, but if you are seeking God and if you hope to find Him, it will be on His terms.   If you are not willing to meet Him on His terms, you are suffering from vanity and pride. Those are two of the things He hates most so your chances of success are slim unless you discover a little humility along the way.  You do not even have to ask to get a big dose of humility.  It is one of the reality sticks with which he opens blind eyes.

  All that being, said I must admit, yes, I have lied and occasionally still do.  However, nowadays, it is more from senility than intent. The testimony I am about to give though is the truth.  It is still as fresh in my mind as the moment it happened. Reflecting on my past, I would say one of my biggest problems was that I was a “the grass is always greener” person.  The only good places in life were where I had been and where I was going. It took me many years to get over that.  Once you learn to be happy with where you are, God will open the gate and put you where He wants you to be. However, it will be on His timetable, not ours.

      It is not my intent to bore you, but I would like to give you enough background on me to be able to form some type of an opinion.  It will be warts and all as they say.  It is not to shock or upset, but let you see some of the wrong turns that the good Lord can undo when given the opportunity. Believe me I made plenty in my life.

                                                                A Vision ?

       In January, 1967, I went to bed, and, best as I can remember, everything was normal.  I had not been drinking nor doing drugs. I did at that point drink sometimes, but I had never tried drugs other than those prescribed by a doctor.  The next thing I knew, I was standing at the window of my room in the barracks looking out.  The window was open, and it was a nice spring like night.  As I looked, I saw two people walking down the street across from the barracks.  All of sudden, I realized one of the two people was me. I was telling the person with me about the Bible and the coming of the Lord.

      It was or seemed like a spring like night. One thing I noticed was that I had this peace about me. It was a peace that surpassed all understanding.  It was a peace to the core of my being.   Believe me, that was not the state of my life at that moment in time.  The next thing I knew, the heavens parted and I saw Christ coming forth on a white horse, with an Army in white, and a golden staircase preceded him. Trumpets blared, and the earth shook, and people started running in all directions and screaming.  Again I noticed that peace about me. All of a sudden, it was over.

        The next thing I knew, I was standing at the window and looking out. However, it was not a spring like night.  It was blowing snow and freezing cold, and about six inches or more of snow was on the ground.  I stood there a couple of minutes kind of dumbfounded by my experience. I looked around the room. The light was on.  It was a four man room, but all my roommates were gone.  It was very late. I closed the window and watched as a couple of cars passed by.  Slowly, I went back to my bed, turning the light off on the way.
      I laid there and tried to absorb what I had just experienced.  It was some time later when one of my roommates came in.  That was a relief.  It was not the rapture, and I had not been left behind.  I remember his asking if I was okay.  I said yes, but wondered if my voice betrayed my concern. He never mentioned it again.  Sleep was hard coming, but sometime later it overtook me.

        The next day I talked to Allan who lived in the next room.  That was his last name, at least I think it was, and I do not remember his first.  After all, it was forty plus years in January.  That is not an excuse, because I can close my eyes and replay that moment almost as vividly as the moment it happened.  It had not been my custom to talk to Allan; in fact, he was almost a social leper. He was a born again, Bible thumping Christian.  In the course of the day, I managed to get alone with Allan and discuss my “experience” with him.  He seemed to tolerate me.  While I had not played any of the tricks on him that the others had, I had not shown any sympathy or compassion either.  His main advice was to pray on the matter.

        While I did not do much praying, I did consult a Bible.  My success was limited to a verse a member of our church had written in the Bible before giving it to me on my return from Bible camp. It was Proverbs, chapter three, and verses five and six.  Since that day, they have become my life verses.  The fact I still had that Bible was a miracle in itself.  At that moment in time, it was my Rock of Gibraltar. It was all I had to cling to.  It was the needle that led me out of the haystack of confusion, although it was some time before I truly even grasped its significance.

      Slowly, I came to the conclusion that the Rapture was going to be in the spring.  So I came up with my plan.  Like Jonah, I ran.  I volunteered for Vietnam.  In my peanut brain and higher logic, I expected God to put everything on hold while I went to Vietnam. Spring came and went, and I was still in Germany.  Finally, in May, I got my orders for Vietnam and had to wait till the 20th of June, 1967 to leave.  In my job as a parachute rigger, I thought I was going to go straight to Israel instead. God was playing a trump card and sending me straight to Armageddon. Let me say that Israel was going to have backup if they needed it. The Israeli Six Day War came and went though, and off I went to Vietnam, with a short stay at home in the states.

       After forty-five days at home, it was time to go on to Vietnam and my appointment with destiny.  My year in Vietnam was a strange one to say the least.  It turned out to be more of a Jonah experience than I realized.  The units I was assigned to were over- staffed.  Upon arriving at the 101st Airborne in Phan Rang, I spent ninety days guarding water pumps for the Air Force.  After that, I returned to my unit, only to be transferred to Cam Ranh Bay.   Shortly after arriving there, it was my privilege to again be sent on temporary duty.  I managed to survive three months of driving convoys up and down the coast on Highway One.  Little did I know that this would open a door later in my life . Finally, when the Tet Offensive started in February of l968, it was my chance to perform in the field the Army had trained me for at great expense.  Many units were cut off and completely surrounded, our job became vital. We were returned to our home units.  Supply by sky, or by parachute specifically, became the sole means of getting supplies and equipment to many units. It was around the clock work for almost sixty days.

      Finally, my time in Vietnam came to an end.  When I had volunteered for Vietnam, it was really to get back to the states a little quicker.  At this point, I need to give a little background as to how I got to Germany the first time.  I had reenlisted to go to France, and upon getting there in September of 1966, my dream got cut short.  French President De Gaulle told the Americans to leave.  You know who left with the advance party.  Not being impressed with Germany helped me make my decision to volunteer for Vietnam.  The vision or dream I had also helped encourage me to leave. Otherwise I would have spent three years in Germany and then my last year in the States.  However, by going to Vietnam, I would get back to the States almost two years earlier and finish my time there.

      It almost worked.  I did go back to the States after leaving Vietnam, and spent almost eight months in a heavenly place known as Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  It was not Germany, and it definitely was not Vietnam, so for the time being I was happy.   At least till February of 1969, when I got orders to go back to Germany.  It was funny how Germany no longer seemed like such a bad deal.  After all, I was not going back to the same unit I had left.  At the time, there were only two company size units with my job specialty in Europe. At least I was not going back to Idar.

      As they say, God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform.  My time flew by, and I took my short leave and off to Germany I went. Arriving at the airport of Rhine-Main in Germany, I got off the plane still in a fairly exuberant mood. The Rapture had not happened, and I was back Germany, but not where I was before. As I exited the terminal a young specialist walked up to me.  He asked my name.  He was there to pick me up.  Well, first, they do not send a jeep to pick up a specialist, and secondly, he was not wearing an Eighth Division patch.  He was wearing the patch of the unit I had left almost two years before. In short order, I explained these minute details to him.

       He smiled and handed me my “new orders” explaining I had been transferred en route back to my old unit.  My cheeriness of moments before was gone.   Getting my bags and the almost three hour drive back to my unit was all a blur, and truly hardly any of it is remembered.  My conversation was mechanical, as I was lost in deep thought all the way.  How could this be, I kept asking myself.  Finally, we arrived, and I came out of my stupor.  There were a lot of smiling faces, a lot of back slapping and shaking hands.  The job field I was in was small.  After just four years in the Army, I had served with and went to school with many of the soldiers greeting me.  Also, as I said, it was a three- year tour, and I had only been gone two years. So some of the faces were familiar from when I had left.

       It was almost surreal as I came “home” the conquering hero.  They carried my bags in and took me to the First Sergeant and introduced me.  He shook hands and welcomed me to the unit.  Then he explained he would get someone to take me to my room.  I remember telling him that would not be necessary as I knew where I was going.  He explained that was impossible as he had not even told the clerk where he was putting me yet.  I smiled and looked at him, and by this time I knew where this journey would end.  I had literally gone clear around the world and was back in the same Company, in the same barracks, on the same floor and in the same room.  I explained to him my room was the second from the end on the right.   He looked at me puzzled.  I just smiled back and left with my entourage.

     As I reached the room, I opened the door and looked in. The bed on the right was taken the two by the windows were also taken.  Finally, I looked behind the door and sure enough the bed and wall locker were empty.  I had gone all the ways around the world to come back to the very same bed and wall locker I had left almost two years before. However it hit me that God does have a sense of humor.  The day I arrived was April 1 1969.  At that point, I became a little overwhelmed by it all.  I asked all the people to give me a few minutes alone.  I sat down on the bunk and leaned back against the wall.

       Many might dismiss all this as coincidence, but I felt God had actually showed me the reality of his Being.  As I sat, there I told God, “I do not know what all this is about. I will not be a hypocrite and get down on the floor and plead and beg. But I know now you are real and there is a meaning and a purpose to all this. I intend to continue on with my life, and, when it is time, you give me direction.  I will do whatever it is you want me to do. I do not know what it is, but I will do it.  My life is in your hands; do with me as you please.  When you call I pray, I have the wisdom to answer.  The call came in April of the year 1984.  At least the call to start turning my life around and get some direction to it seemed pretty clear at that point.

      That moment is also etched in my mind and was a moving experience.  However, this whole thing is not about me. It is about knowing God and His Word and having the faith to live by that Word.  In the course of this testimony, I left out a lot of the details, because, while they are important to me, they are not what this is all about.  It is about a revelation I have had over the years in my time in the Word of God.  There is nothing new here that has not been there all the time.  It is just looking at it all from a different perspective and saying why is this here?  What does it actually mean?

       To me, it means if we are willing to get into and truly search his Word, the answers are there.  The whole plan is laid out for us to see.  We just need to open our eyes.  The stories are not for entertainment, but for enlightenment.  All I am about write and explain came from asking God to answer one simple question.  He has been over twenty years answering it.  The answer gets more and more detailed as time goes on.

       Many years ago, when I first started walking the way the Lord wanted me to walk, at least I felt it was the way he wanted me to walk, many things troubled my mind.  Some things I could not grasp. Had I any clue how detailed the answer would be I might have tried to change my profession, had I felt called in that way.  To this day I have not felt called, just blessed.  At least that was the way it was till I started this project.  This has become a consuming fire.  Often I wonder if I have waited too long or put it off too long, but I do not feel that is the case. There is a purpose to all that God does, and, after, all this time I know He would have put a boot under me or sent the message to another.  Only time will tell, but it is my belief I will be here for the rapture.  Sooner or later “it will happen.”  My belief is that we are closer to sooner than we are to later.  My recurring question is, will I know that person I was walking with in my vision when I meet him?

The rest of this book is basically things I have come to understand out of the Bible that makes me believe we are at a time close to the end.  If you are not into end time stuff, this is a good time to quit reading, but all that follows is taken directly from the Bible. 

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