“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3
I don't know what caused him to single me out and come to my BOQ (Bachelor Officer Quarters) door, but he did. He was a fellow instructor pilot and warrant officer. I didn't really know him or anyone else who did. The only reason he came to my door was to tell me about Jesus. I felt good toward God and Jesus. Having been raised Catholic I knew they were the good guys, so I didn't mind listening. I knew I was no saint, but I thought who was in the day and age we lived.
I liked feeling good toward God. I also enjoyed my extra curricula activities that did not include God. I basically had no serious convictions at that stage of my life. I had a good work ethic, but I also enjoyed partying hard when it didn't interfere with work. My ability to determine right from wrong was cloudy. I basically believed in "live and let live" as long as you OBVIOUSLY were not hurting somebody else.
The collateral damage from our bad choices is usually not very apparent until it's too late.
I had not been to confession since graduating from the eighth grade when I began experimenting with drinking after reading my first western novel. I'd go to Mass on occasion and would sometimes think of going to confession, but would then look at the mountain of sin I had been accumulating since the eighth grade and tell myself, "No way I can tell any man about all of that." So I didn't, and life went on.
Doing this time period I remember riding shotgun out to the Long Branch Saloon near Newton Alabama with a commissioned officer buddy I had been in Korea with. The Long Branch was the second civilian club choice after the "Menopause Manor"(mentioned in Veracity Questioned) if nothing worthwhile was happening at the Officer's Club. On our drive back to Fort Rucker I remember the sky as being exceptionally beautiful that night with a full moon shinning through a broken cloud layer. The beauty made me think of how awesome God was even while I was in an inebriated state.
Anyhow, Rick the Jesus man continued to stop by my BOQ after my work day was done and share something or other about the Lord. I'd always politely listen. When he was done I would usually get a shower and head out to the Officer's Club to see if anything fun was going on.
On one of his visits Rick asked me, "Dave, if I bought you a Bible would you read it?"
As a general rule Catholics usually don't read the bible. They hear a little bit of scripture during Mass, but that is about the extent of their biblical studies for most of us who claim to be Catholic. I said, "Yea, I'll read it. I don't have any problem with that."
A few days later when I got home from work on the threshold of my BOQ entry door was a new book still in its box. I picked it up and tossed it on my dining table as I entered the door. I then set about getting a shower and getting cleaned up to head to the "O Club".
I was dressed and ready to head out the door when I looked at my watch and realized that it was a little too early to head that way. So, I sat at my dining table and said to myself, "Let me thumb through this book and see if I can find anything interesting."
The book opened to Matthew chapter 24, and I began to read:
Verse 13“But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved." seemed to really speak to me. It was like I was hearing God say, "See there Dave! This is serious business. If you're not able to endure to the end, you'll just be wasting your time."
I then flipped a few pages and came to Matthew Chapter 7 where I read:
Wow! I never even knew there was a narrow gate. I could see clearly though that if this book I was reading was really true that if someone did not make it through that narrow gate, they just wouldn't make it.
I then prayed, "God, if this book is really true, I can see from what I just read that if someone doesn't make it through the narrow gate they just aren't going to make it. So if this book is really true, please do whatever it takes in my life to help me make it through the narrow gate." Then I closed the book and checked my watch. It was now a good time to head to the O Club, and so I did.
I have no doubt though that the simple prayer I prayed regarding the narrow gate set up the future events in my life for God to take me to a P.O.D. (Point of Decision) where He would knock me off the fence I so loved to straddle. He was going to find out if I was serious about the prayer I had just prayed.
There is more to come regarding this piece of a Tall Tale. Stay tuned to learn how it all played out.
p.s. the continuation posts of this story...