Click here to go back to the Concerned Methodists homepage

A Texas Mule

By Allen Morris

A Texas farmer had a new mule he needed to train; it would not do anything he wanted it to-not even go into its stall in the barn.  In exasperation, he hired a mule skinner to come out and break the mule in. The old mule tamer arrived at the farm and had the owner explain what he wanted done.  The old man looked at the mule then at the farmer, reached down and picked up a fence post that was lying on the ground, and, swinging the post like a baseball bat, he hit the mule right between the eyes. The mule shook its head, braced its two front legs just as stubbornly as before, and refused to move. The mule tamer swung the post and again hit the mule between the eyes, this time twice as hard as before. The blow knocked the mule to his knees.

     As it struggled back to its feet, the old man went around to the back of the mule and hit it on the rear with a third blow. He then dropped the post onto the ground, caught the mule by its halter, and calmly led it into the barn. By this time, the farmer was furious: he threw his hat down on the ground, cursed, and yelled at the old man, “What are you doing!? I hired you to come out and tame my mule, not to kill him!”

     While he ranted and raved, the old man just stood there.  He looked up at the sky, then down at the ground. Finally, he just spat some tobacco juice to the side (he was chewing Red Man), and looked the farmer squarely in the eyes. “It appears to me that you’re a mighty good farmer,” said the skinner. “You got a good stand of cotton in the field out yonder, and your rice paddies down by the creek look mighty good - - - - but you don't know nothin’ about taming mules!”

      “What do you mean?” asked the farmer. The old mule tamer continued, “You see, when I want to teach a mule something, the first thing I do is get his attention.”

To a great extent, that is the way I have felt the way the Lord was to get my attention in life. He was the mule tamer; I was the mule. Born and raised in Texas, I grew up in a family that was poor on the rough side of town in San Antonio. Later, we moved to Palacios a small town on the Texas Gulf coast. Despite the fact that we were poor and didn’t have a lot of things that other families had, there were good times. Sometimes I would just feel really happy inside, as if everything was “right” with the world.

Growing Up

In my senior year at Palacios High School, Clint Harris the pastor of our Methodist church, who had come to us from North Carolina, told me that if I wanted to enter the ministry he could get me a scholarship to Duke University. For some reason, he seemed pretty pleased with his offer. Thinking just like a guy raised in a small Texas town, I turned it down for three reasons.  First of all, North Carolina was a long way from Texas, and anything worth knowing about was within the borders of Texas, or so I thought. Secondly, to me the name “Duke University” just sounded stupid. I mean, “Duke”. I’d never heard of Duke. Who’d ever heard of “Duke”? What would it look like to have a degree hanging on my wall from “Duke”? That didn’t have the “prestige” of, say, “Rice” or “The University of Texas”. And finally, I figured that any school named after John Wayne really couldn’t have much going for it academically. So, I went to the local junior college down the road – and drifted away from church.

     I got into trouble as boys sometimes will. Fighting was a real problem in my life. The last one was when I was nineteen. “Hubert” (not his real name) got to picking on me one day at college. That evening after classes, he came by. When I saw him at the door, I knew why he was there and decided that we needed to settle this conflict. We went out into the country where some other students had met.

     Hubert and I went at it: he hit me on the right side of my head as hard as he could. During the next few moments, I hit him several times and then once with an uppercut to the chin – really hard. He went down and just lay on the ground without moving. I looked down at him and said, “I didn’t ask for this fight, Hubert. You did.”

     One of the other guys slapped him on each side of the face; he woke up, got up, and still wanted to fight. I was more careful with him then, working him over in the face. Finally, when he was bleeding from the mouth and nose, and I’d knocked him to his knees, the other guys who were three stopped the fight.

     A friend took me back to my room; some other guys took Hubert to the hospital. I tried to study for the next day’s classes but couldn’t. The sight of Hubert’s bloodied face and his blackened eyes made me sick, and the thought that I might have killed him when I’d hit him with the uppercut really started me to thinking. Even though Hubert started it, I felt really sorry for him. As for me, I was poor. Our family didn’t even have a car. I was going to college on a scholarship. What would have happened if I had killed him? I would have gone to prison and my whole future would have gone down the drain. In my conversation with another guy years later in a similar situation, I learned that he had “done time” in prison for manslaughter because he had killed a man in a fight. That could have been me.

Drafted!

I later attended East Texas State University, became an atheist, got married, and was drafted into the Army. One day I received a letter that started with “Greetings. You have been drafted into the service….” Nine days later, I was in the Army.

     Since I was in pretty good shape physically, I enjoyed Basic Training – although I never want to go through it again. It pushed me further physically than I ever thought possible. It also provided lasting memories and new perspectives. That is something about the Army during the time of the draft – you met people from all walks of life, to include some of the absolute best and some of the “not-so-best” too.

     The drill sergeants would dog us unmercifully. This was during the height of the Vietnam War and I knew they were trying to get us in the best shape possible. In the morning we would be up before dawn, do P.T. (physical training), and go out on our run. We would run – and run – and run. We used to run so far and fast that I would think, “My lungs are going to burst. I’ve got to fall out.” Then I saw what the drill sergeants would do the guys who did fall out and then tell myself, “Boy, you just keep on running.” After awhile, I got in really good shape and at the end of the run when the drill sergeants would ask, “Do you think you’ve had enough?” and I knowing they had to get us into the mess hall to eat would yell back, “No, drill sergeant, let’s run some more!” That would get a rise out of the other guys – but one time the drill sergeant responded, “Okay, since Trainee Morris wants to run some more, we’ll run some more.” I never did that again. I remember one night that we were given P.T. for three hours straight – nothing but pushups, situps, and all of the other exercises they could think of – just because they wanted to have fun with us. Right. Fun for them, not for us. One of the quotes I remember is, “Get down and give me pushups until I get tired!” [Huh?]

     When we graduated from Basic, they put a group of us on a chartered plane and flew us to Philadelphia, then onto a bus and up to Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey. Arriving at 2:30 in the morning, we immediately went to the in-processing building where we were met by a staff sergeant. He said, “Gentlemen, please be seated.” I remained standing at attention thinking there must have been some officers behind us. He repeated what he’d said, telling us that he was talking to us. After the briefing, he took us to the barracks where we would spend the night. I was put into a top bunk – and immediately went to sleep.

     In the morning I woke up and saw there was a guy who had slept on the bottom bunk. We talked and our conversation drifted around to my asking him how long he was in for. He replied, “Six years.” I then asked him what kind of a school he had gotten? He replied, “None.” Before I could think, the words rolled out of my mouth, “That was dumb.” With his back to me as he took off the shirt from his six foot, four inch frame he replied, “Well, the judge told me he would offer me either six years in the Army or six years in prison, so I chose the Army.” After that explanation, seeing a knife scar across his back and how big he was, that sounded like a good deal to me.

     One of the “buddies” I met in the service was Gary Garner, a guy from the streets of Chicago – “Shy-town” as he called it. We used to get into trouble and I would always get away without any consequences. Gary would look at me, grin, point upward, and say, “Hey, Al. somebody up there likes you.” At the time, I didn’t know it but he was right: Somebody “up there” did like me. Gary was later killed – and I wasn’t.

The Vietnam War

I served a tour in Southeast Asia. Each day, we concentrated on just getting through that day alive and survive two dangers – the “bad guys” and the snakes.

     One day while traveling through the countryside with two other Americans, we passed a government outpost that looked like it had been wiped out by the communists. At that time, I knew there were some of the Thai communists, Pathet Lao, Viet Cong, and the North Vietnamese Army in our sector. I became afraid. It felt as if I were completely hollow, fear poured inside, and there was an uncontrollable urge to start running – to just run anywhere and not stay there. I overcame this fear and regained control by telling myself, “Wait a minute! Wait a minute! You can’t run! There’s nowhere to go. In order for you to be safe, you would have to run across five hundred miles of jungle, swim eight thousand miles of ocean, and then run across a thousand miles of desert before you would be safely back in Texas. You can’t do it, Boy! You can’t do it!” Only this reasoning could overcome the fear.

The snakes. I saw more poisonous snakes in that one year: cobras, green vipers, banded kraits, and pit vipers. We caught several to include an Asiatic cobra and a python. One time when I was taking the garbage out and wearing my thong sandals, as I put my left foot down I happened to look down at the path. I froze; less than two feet from me was a female King Cobra. She slowly slithered across the path, into the grass, and out of the compound. After that, I would always look down at the ground when I walked – a habit I carried back to the States.

     Another time two of our guys went into one of our bunkers at night to have a smoke. They sat down on the sand bags piled up in the middle for the machine gun, struck a match – and saw a cobra right between them looking from one to the other. They each went out opposite windows of the bunker.

     Later one of our guys Amos Hicks was working on some equipment – a high voltage amplifier called a klystron. As he removed the last of seven screws and removed the plate, a cobra stuck its head out; Amos held the screwdriver by the blade and hit the snake on the head. The cobra shook its head, and then darted back inside the klystron. Later he was found dead – shorted out by 14,000 volts of radio energy.

The media were no friends. Once I saw a news truck with “CBS” painted on the side drive past our compound close to the Laotian border. An associate later told me:

One morning I was in Pakse [pronounced “Pahk’ say”] Laos watching the Royal Laotian Air Force fly missions against the communists coming down the Ho Chi Minh Trail. This CBS news truck rolled up, set up their equipment, and waited. After flying several missions, the pilots landed about noon, took a smoke-break and had lunch. It was then the camera started rolling and the newscaster said, “Well, here we are in Pakse, Laos and, as you can see, these pilots are not too interested in fighting the war against their enemy.” He went on in that vein for awhile. After he had shut the camera off, I got in his face and asked, “Why did you broadcast that? That was a lie!” He replied, “Son, the truth doesn’t sell.”

I was so glad that I was not there at the time. If I had, I would have smashed his camera, burned his truck, and beaten the guy up. He had broadcast what would serve to convince the people back in the “world” – as we called the United States – that the Laotians didn’t care about what was happening over here, which was not true and would damage our effort to keep this part of the world free. I liked the Laotian people, admired their culture, and knew of their love for freedom. But then if I had seen the broadcast and done what I wanted to do to that news team, I could have predicted the headlines that would have read, “Battle-crazed sergeant beats up peaceful newsman” which would have been yet another distortion of the truth.

     It was best that I learned about this after-the-fact. But since that time, I have never trusted the news media – a fact that was born out later in other operations in Grenada and Operation Desert Shield/Storm.

Back in the Army Now

I got through the year safely, returned to the United States, got out of the Army, and went to the University of Texas at Arlington. It seemed that as I filled my head with book knowledge, my life was filled with a growing sense of emptiness. I received my degree and an Army Commission as a Second Lieutenant, went back into the Army, and was divorced from my wife.

     Assigned to Germany on a first tour, I did well professionally even serving as a liaison officer to both a German battalion and a French regiment. Since I spoke German, communication with the battalion was easy. Working with the French unit was more of a problem, but made easier by the English-speaking French lieutenant-colonel Roland Herve, and Lieutenant Michael Crouzet, who had grown up north of the Pyrenees Mountains and with whom I spoke Spanish.

Suicide

My personal life was a mess. I went through a roller coaster ride of emotions caused by the divorce, and the empty feeling I continued to have inside. Living had become so painful that it was tough to just get through each day. I had to find some way to get out of the “black depressions” I was experiencing. One day, while I was on Christmas vacation in Houston, the solution came to me – I would kill myself. I would get on the plane, fly back to Germany, load the pistol I kept in my room, put the gun to my head and pull the trigger. After I had made the decision to commit suicide, I felt happy. There was an actual feeling of joy inside, because I had found my “solution”

     On a visit to my adopted Grandmother Rohrer and her family, I was surrounded by such an atmosphere of love that I gave up on the suicide solution and gave life another chance. I returned to Germany, did all the things I could to fill the emptiness inside: partied, traveled, hiked, and dated girls – anything I could think of to fill the emptiness.

I completed a successful tour in Europe, returned to the United States, and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in 1980. I started going to Camp Ground United Methodist Church in Fayetteville, joined a Sunday School class, and volunteered to be a youth counselor.

The Dark Hole

While eating dinner in the privacy of my home one day, I started to choke. I remember thinking, “This is a stupid way to die.” I mean, I always saw myself being shot while leading a charge on a machine gun nest, or falling on a hand grenade to save my buddies, but to choke to death – that was really a meaningless way to die. The living room disappeared, and I was in a dark room measuring about thirty feet squared. The floor was like a greased funnel with a dark hole in the middle; I was on one side of the funnel slowly sliding into that hole. I could see where I was going; the fear I had experienced during the Vietnam War was nothing compared to the pure terror I felt knowing where I was going. With all of my being I did not want to go into that hole, but there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop the sliding. The only thing I remember is thinking – and it was like a shout inside of my mind – “Oh, God, no!”

     Finally, after – it seemed like – hours, the hole closed up, the dark room disappeared, and I was again in my living room.

     This was the first “club” God used to get my attention.

     I sensed there was something seriously wrong in my life, and continued looking for ways to fill the emptiness inside.

Desperation

In 1984 I flew back to Houston. Plans were for my brother and me to give our only sister away in marriage. The morning of the wedding, I heard my brother arguing with his wife, Kay. After he had stormed out of the house she told me about his use of drugs. For years he and I had had arguments about his use of marijuana, but until that time I hadn’t known of his using the “hard” drugs.

     After I had flown back to Fayetteville I called my brother’s home to see how he was doing; Kay didn’t know where he was. Alarmed, I called my parent’s home in San Antonio asking about him. My mother told me that he had rushed into the house, gotten a hunting knife he kept there, and ran out saying, “I can’t stand it anymore! I can’t stand it anymore!” Instantly, I realized what I had done – I had judged him. I hung up the phone, got on my knees, and prayed – begged God to find him wherever he was and keep him from killing himself.

     This was the second “club” God used to get my attention.

     Three days later I took emergency leave, caught a plane to San Antonio, linked up with my brother, and stayed with him constantly for the next three days in Garner State Park. My idea was that I could control his time and not let any drug pushers get to him. We walked through the hills of the park talking about his drug use.

     We drove back to Houston and as he dropped me off for my flight back to North Carolina and he returned to his wife, I took one look at him thinking I would never see him again alive.

     In North Carolina I embarked on what I called a “prayer campaign” for my brother. In the morning, I would get on my knees and ask God to keep my brother free from drugs just for that day. In the evening, I would claim that promise and thank Him for having kept him drug-free. I was never really sure until four months later when I could tell he was drug – free because it was like his mind had come out of a fog.

     I was amazed at all that had happened. At the same time I was still trying to fill the hollowness inside of me – trying to recapture that feeling of “being alive” that went with the high school years. I started reading the Bible and continued attending church.

The “Burst of Heat”

I planned to attend a Billy Graham crusade to be held in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, after having seen a short clip of him preaching; it seemed that he had a way of explaining the Bible so that it “came alive” and I could understand it better. On February 19, 1985, the first night of the crusade, I sat on the top row far away from the speaker’s platform so that any “hocus-pocus” would not make me do anything stupid – like walk forward as I had seen people do at other crusades.

     I listened to Billy’s message and when he gave the invitation to accept Christ as my savior, I realized that I had never done so and this might be what was missing out of my life. I was one of the first people to leave my seat in the top of the stadium and make my way to the area in front of the speaker’s stand. For the first time in my life, I publicly confessed that I was a sinner and wanted Christ as my personal savior.

     The next evening I arrived early – about six.  While sitting in the chair watching the stadium fill up with people, I started thinking about the past year, and how it had seemed like the Lord had worked a miracle in my brother’s life, how through nothing “more” than my praying for him a thousand miles away, he was able to kick his drug habit. It was like my brother had been dead mentally and he had been brought back to life. It was as if God had “given him back” to me. At that time I made the conscious decision that, “Since God had given my brother back to me, I would live my life for God.” In that instant, I felt a flush of heat all over my body and an unbelievable sense of peace. The feeling of peace was so great that if the ground had opened up and swallowed me, I would have felt absolutely no anxiety. Before, I had been trying to recapture that “old” feeling I’d had in high school, but this was a “new” feeling unlike anything I’d had before.

     This has been the third “club” God used to get my attention.

     I had a tremendous desire – like an unquenchable thirst – to get a Bible and read it; just devour as many words in it as I could. As I read the Bible it was as if the words jumped off the page at me when I saw how they applied to my life; the message could not have been any clearer if it had been placed on a billboard in front of me. It was as if God were saying to me, “See, this is what I want you to understand.” When I read about being “born again” I realized – that is what happened to me at the crusade in Florida before I even read about it in the Bible. The more I read the Bible – the clearer I understood that most of the problems in my life had been caused by me.

I became involved in various ministries where I felt I was needed. One evening, I had been invited to give my testimony in Sandhills Prison to the male inmates. I appeared in my Army uniform and told about my life – even the rough side. As I told about my last fight with Hubert, I could see the men identifying with it. As I told about one of my men during the Vietnam war who had become addicted to “Red Rock Heroin” (an especially strong form that comes from the “Golden Triangle” where Laos, Burma, and Thailand meet), they became animated. I finished my message and when the invitation was given, 37 men accepted Jesus Christ as their savior that night. Only later would I read in the Bible that “The Lord will restore what the locusts have destroyed.” God can use even the bad things – the “garbage” such as the fighting and partying in our lives – to do his work.

Since my conversion I have had four close calls with death, but these were different from the times before I was a Christian. In all of these last encounters, there has been nothing but perfect peace.

     In the second of these instances occurring in 1987 when I had been reassigned back to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, I had a series of medical examinations run after having experienced symptoms of a malignancy. A total of fourteen tests were run in Texas, at Ft. Bragg, and at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC; any one could have determined that I did not have cancer. Each one came back showing the possible malignancy. Finally, the decision was made to operate. I had this strange feeling of peace, strength and that everything would be all right. The subsequent operation was extremely painful – but   showed a complete absence of cancer. I returned to duty at Ft. Bragg.

Operation Desert Storm

The last two brushes with death occurred during Operation Desert Storm. When I was about to deploy, I visited Grandma Rohrer in Houston; she had terminal cancer. I knew I would never see her alive. As we talked, she said that she was ready to go be with Pops who had passed away four years before. Right before I left, I knelt by her bed and prayed for her, “Lord, if it is Your will, take Grandma home. She is ready and wants to be with Pops.” Then Grandma, on her deathbed, prayed for me, that I would get through the war safely and come back home. I flew back to Fayetteville and deployed the next day.

     When I landed at the airbase in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia and reported into the XVIII Airborne Corps headquarters, I was told to call Captain Green back at Ft. Bragg. I knew what it was. As soon as he heard my voice, he told me, “Your Grandmother passed away two days ago.”

     I felt as if I had been hit between the eyes with a club. I hung up the phone, went outside, and as the sun came up over the horizon, I just squatted in the desert sand and cried. My prayer had been answered.

     Numerous school children wrote asking me if I were afraid. In November 1990, long before the first Scud missiles were launched against us by the Iraqis and the shooting started, I gave them my answer: “Don’t worry about me or my safety because, you see, I belong to God. He is my Heavenly Father, and this is His world; He owns it and He is in complete control. That means I can be at home anywhere I am. And don’t worry about me when the fighting starts. Have you ever heard of a ‘win-win situation’ – no matter how it comes out will be good? Well, that’s what I am in, here. If God should choose to let me die, then I will get to be with Him. Or if He should choose to let me live and go back to the States, then I’ll be able to work for Him. Either way, it will be good. So don’t pray for me or that I will be safe. Rather, just pray that His will be done in my life.”

     One time, another officer in our unit had just washed his socks and was outside starting to hang them up. As he looked up at the improvised clothes’ line, he saw three glows rapidly falling on us – Scuds! He said, “Oh, shoot!” (Not exactly how he pronounced the word) He grabbed the wet socks, ran into where we were, and yelled, “Hey guys, we’re under air attack.” We looked up at Major Smith (not his real name) when he burst through the door. When he said “air attack” we thought he meant that Iraqi planes had broken through our air cover – which we knew was unlikely. For some reason, looking at him with those wet socks and those saucer-sized eyes struck us as funny. We all burst out laughing. A few seconds later, we heard above us three loud explosions of the Patriot missiles impacting and taking out the Scuds. We stopped laughing and scrambled to put on our gas masks and chemical suits. The joke was on us after all.

     I survived combat operations to include numerous Scud attacks.

     The thing is – during all of the operations, there was nothing but perfect peace inside. I was “‘right” with the Lord – I just had inner peace about everything else that was going on and was able to do my part of the mission unhindered by paralyzing fear.

     I later returned to Ft. Bragg in the spring of 1991.

Grandma’s prayer was answered.

Retirement

I retired the following year. The Army has been good to me and I enjoyed my military service, but that is like a chapter in a great book – closed and in the past. However, there is one thing I do miss – taking part in a mass tactical parachute jump with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. Even today, when I hear the sounds of the engines of a C-130 airplane, my heart beats faster, and I think about hearing the jump commands: “Stand up! Hook Up! Check static line! Check equipment! Sound off!..Stand in the door!...Green light – GO!” leaving the airplane, jumping out of the plane into the night and counting:

“One thousand one”

“One thousand two”

“One thousand three”

“One thousand four”

And feeling the pull of the parachute canopy as it opens above me.

+                      +                      +

Allen Morris, author of sixteen books and editor of the book Coming Home, retired from the Army and now heads up Concerned Methodists, Inc. in the renewal movement in the United Methodist Church. Hobbies are: reading, writing, hiking, camping, traveling, photography and volunteering with youth.

 

Questions asked of our Classmates

1. “One person who had a great influence in my life was...”

     My father. Even though he did not have a lot of formal education (he went only as far as the 4th grade), he continued learning until a few months before he passed away. Also, he taught my brother and me an important lesson in life – how to work hard and to do a quality job.

2. “One thing I’m especially proud of is....”

     My contribution to changing the Army’s doctrine in the area of combat communications. When I had returned to the States to attend the Signal Officer Advanced Course at Ft. Gordon, Georgia, I headed up a group of ten officers who did a study (classified “Secret” at that time) evaluating our combat capabilities in the European theater. From my experience in Germany as a Signal officer with the 26th Signal Battalion, I had worked with the German Luftlandefernmeldebataillon 9 (9th Airborne Signal Battalion) based at Bruchsal and the French 42e Regiment du Transmissions (42nd Signal Regiment) based at Rastatt. The French were very effective in highly mobile tactics with their doctrine, equipment, men, and training. Through General Jacques Deygout, whom I considered to have one of the best military minds of anyone I knew, I was briefed on a new system called R.E.T.A. (a French acronym). It utilized a “flood-search” technology and in effect equipped their forces with mobile-telephone technology – during the 1970s. This was crucial to maintaining communications on a highly-mobile battlefield against the superior Warsaw Pact forces.

     I briefed Major General (MG) William J. Hilsman at Ft. Gordon that the signal doctrine espoused by his own Signal School was not practical and that the combat doctrine put out by Ft. Leavenworth was not realistic, and they would result in defeat for our forces. I concluded with a 15-point recommendation to correct the problem. He agreed. MG Hilsman directed us to present our briefing to his boss, Lieutenant General (LTG) Richardson who headed the Combined Arms Combat Development Activity (CACDA) at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. We did.      Later that same briefing was presented to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Over the next several years other options were explored; I told them that they were inadequate, that the R.E.T.A. system met the need. Finally, it came down to deciding between the British Ptarmigan system and the French R.E.T.A. system; R.E.T.A. was selected and designated as “Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE)” by our forces. Our doctrine and equipment were first used in Operation Desert Storm. At the time, I was on the ground in the combat theater and coordinated an aspect of the battle plan. That same doctrine that we had briefed to CACDA was  put into action. As it is, I cannot think of a better way to have finished my Army career than with Operation Desert Storm.

4. “One of life’s greatest lessons is...”

     When you have a chance to do something, do it. Don’t shrink back from doing it just because it is tough, new, different, innovative, out-of-the-ordinary, adventurous, or in other parts of the world

6. “One mistake I made/saw someone else make was...” 

     Even though I have been involved in volunteer youth ministry with “problem” kids and “good” kids over the years, I’ve never had any of my own. I wished I’d had my own biological children.

7. “If I could go back and do something over, I would...” 

     Get married to a good woman who would be a wife and mother.

9. Advice to young people:

     Really get your education early and continue to learn throughout your life. Make up your mind as to what you will do with Jesus Christ. Use the Bible as your roadmap in life.

+                      +                      +

The cover from a previous book I had authored featured a woodland scene that brings home the meaning in a poem that spoke to me:

“…The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,

   But I have promises to keep,

         And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.”+

This quotation speaks to commitment and the need to finish something which one has promised – despite the time, cost, competing desires, or physical effort required. It is important to keep one’s word.

     This is something I would often quote to myself when I was at East Texas State University and had to stay up late working on Physics problems. It provided me a great deal of comfort – and encouragement to “stay the course” and persist until I had finished what I had needed to do, no matter how long it took. In this regard, I am thankful to Dr. Kwang-shik Min, the top professor who considered Physics students to be, as he put it, “Cream of crops” – and who loaded us up with homework and tests that reflected his belief. He pushed us to reach heights of academic learning that I would have not thought possible.

+ The poem “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost.

– AOM

Looking back...

1. About my near death experience: I did not want to go into that “dark hole” and tried with every particle of my being to not go in – but could do nothing. At that time I – was a captain in the 82nd Airborne Division, received good pay, spoke 4 languages, had a master’s degree, owned land and my house, had a sports car; and dated a beautiful girl. All of these did not matter one bit; what mattered was that I was sliding into this place that caused me pure terror. Hell is real. I needed a way out.

2. Being “born again”: I learned that having Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior is the most important thing you can ever do. At the time I felt the burst of heat all over my body and an unbelievable sense of peace at the Billy Graham Crusade, I “came alive” in that instant. I learned from my four close calls with death afterwards – that you can have the inner peace for any situation that happens in life.

3. I wished I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior at a much earlier age. I spent way too much of my life living for myself when there is more. Then I could have lived more of my life for Him.

4. The Bible is life’s roadmap. I saw my past life more clearly – and through reading the Bible had my problems mirrored back to me. 

5. Marriage and divorce: The Bible says that, “A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) Also, “God hates divorce.” (Mal. 2:16). After my divorce, it felt as if my heart were being ripped out of my body.

6. Suicide: God is the giver of life. Taking our own lives can have spiritual implications beyond our understanding – a conclusion reached by a medical doctor, Dr. Raymond A. Moody in his book Life after Life. Of the people who had attempted suicide (and survived), all of them stated that they realized that at the moment of death that they had done something they shouldn’t have. All of the survivors had a renewed appreciation for living their lives.

7. “Payback”: “Treat others as you would like them to treat you” (Matthew 7:12) is good advice and true in a universal sense, as also, “Do not be deceived...a man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7b).

8. Judgment & anger: Matthew 7:1-5 – don’t judge others harshly. You never know what somebody else is going through. Harsh words hurt!

9. Maintain your relationships with others so that if one leaves this world, there would be no “unfinished business” that you would regret. “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.” (Ephesians 4:26).

10. I would keep myself physically pure for the girl I would marry. I speak from experience. I did the opposite & realize the damage it does.

                                          – AOM 

 

 



Website maintained by Rev. John Warrener at Servantweb.com
 

|| Home || Introduction || Stewardship Report || The Unofficial Confessing Movement || Lifewatch ||
|| Independent Committee on Alcohol and Drugs || News Update || Advisory Board ||
|| Case Studies || Testimonies || Interconnection into the United Methodist Church ||