This site is a forum for all types of belief. It is my purpose to interact with these who believe differently that I do to understand why their beliefs and culture.
When I was a very young child, I looked up into the heavens and was blinded by the millions of stars that gleamed overhead. That was my first look into the Eye of God. I have never forgotten that glance, despite the fact it occurred half a century ago. Nor will I ever forget. I look at life and faith as though light was reflecting from my spirit outwards. Often, when young children see me, they smile and they fix their eyes on that light I cannot see eminating from my eyes. They stare into my soul as though they know the essence of my spirit. I am deeply moved when this happens. Sometimes, even the youngest of infants will smile or laugh when they look at me. It perplexes their parents, but I can only say that it is God's gift that was given me when I looked into his Mansion of Heaven when I was that young.
My parents brought me up to have the uttermost reverence for God. They taught me that their is a Special Reverence that I should have for Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. I was well taught in the Bible from an infant to adulthood. Nothing shook my beliefs until I enlisted in the military and became a member of the United States Air Force. I was on my own. I continued in the spirit of my upbringing, teaching Sunday School classes, being a song leader, directing teen choirs, and sharing the Word of God with everyone I met. Yet, through all of that, I was comforted with the world around me.
In December 1972, my life and my beliefs as I practiced them was completely changed. My first days in Vietnam were filled with fear, an all-consuming fear. Yet, as I recall it, I cannot understand why. Wasn't God still with me, were not my beliefs strong enough to bolster away my fears? Perhaps, it was the introduction of films that I had seen about Vietnam before I entered the Air Force. Violence and death seem the sum up these films. Yet, I was unafraid then, but the moment our plane landed in Saigon, those fears overshadowed the depths of my beliefs, the ones I practiced, was tutored in, and enjoyed the fellowship with. The two Sergeants I was with on this assignment showed no fear, exhibited no anxiety, and never missed a moment of sleep that first night we were there. So, what was wrong with me. All of my Christian experience suddenly was wanting.
The three of us were flown from Saigon to DaNang the next day. My fears had calmed down. Yet, at ten thousand feet above a pocked, bombed out barren, denuded landscape greeted us. The fear returned. Rocket City was just around the bend. Our C-130 came to rest on the tarmac of DaNang. The morning was partly cloudy and hot. No one was there to meet us. We were like three orphans who, even after we identified ourselves, were told they had no orders telling them we were coming. Soon this misunderstanding was resolved.
A jeep arrived and the first thing that was issued was a flak jacket and a steel pot ("helmet"). This did little to alter my fears. Where was that faith I was raised on?
There is a saying in the military, that when you are in combat zone, you are always alone, and I found that to be true. Following the first few rocket attacks, I realized that the safety net of my faith was more in my mind that my heart. At times, when caught out in the open during a rocket attack, it was terrorizing.
I found that, despite the differences in the other military staff around, we all believed in God; we just showed it in different ways. However,what was available in the States, was not available in Vietnam. No church services, no choirs, no Sunday Schools...only a chapel down from the barracks which in the evening times was a haven for many who came to pray. Even then there was no association or group...it was just men who came on their knees to pray and study the scriptures. After I found the chapel, I made it there almost every day after my duties were completed. But even during prayer and Bible readings, the sounds of rockets hitting nearby were always present.
Soon, I began to have a greater understanding of my faith. In the States, my faith was all in my head, just thoughts, belief systems, rituals, and the association with others. In Vietnam, it was about TRUE FAITH, the understanding that Death stood at your door and watched you even as you prayed. I began to realize that it is not what we learned in Sunday School or Church Service that created our strength, it was something greater. There we supported our faith; in combat, it God's faith that supports you.
I am married, and continue to be after 34 years. My wife has helped me overcome obstacles in my spiritual orientation in a mighty way. She truly is my helpmeet. My spiritual growth has expanded, and no longer am I as judgmental as I was, ready to proselyte others. I learned that if I lived a spiritual life, those who approached me with questions, would learn, even as I would learn of them. It does not matter the spiritual preface that one has, there is much to learn, and everyone, no one excluded, can learn from one another, as long as there is no prejudice in their conversations. Spiritual strength comes from a longing to understand ourselves, and I have found that learning from others, regardless of their beliefs, can be uplifting.
That is why I am writing this profile. I am willing to interact with others of different beliefs to augment my own.