Welcome to God Gave Me Life Part 2. Part 1 is here. I went to college at West Point. However, I kept reading the Bible every night and continued to have trouble praying. I would always fall asleep.
After four weeks of grueling Beast Barracks, July of 1983 at West Point, they gave us four hours off, and I heard an announcement that any Christian could come to the chapel office for 1 of those hours. Of 1400+ freshmen (called Plebes), 5 of us showed up for that meeting. We 5 had just that much passion to chase God. We were 5/1400.
The Chapel never followed up with me and life was grueling. I kept reading the Bible and joined the chapel choir. In January, I somehow heard about a Plebe Bible Study starting next door to the Chaplains office. I entered in fear and found a civilian man, Dee Winchell, with perhaps 6 Plebe cadets. Hurray, no hazing upper classmen.
He said welcome and pulled out an old left over version of the Design for Discipleship Book 1 we would study. He gave it to me. I still have Book 4 somehow, and it is pictured.
Time To Help Others
One weekend the Chapel Choir Director lined us up with girls from a neighboring secular college non-Christian club who wanted to meet cadets. I was confused and finally appalled. What kind of a Christian choir was this?
In my 2nd year at West Point I decided it was time to preach to the choir and told everyone I would do a Bible Study before choir. About 6-8 people usually came including my best friend, Erin Doe. I did that until I graduated.
Chuck Rigney asked me to start a Bible Study for Plebes in his company as by regulation, he could not. I did and that study went until I graduated. I also was rapidly becoming a leader in the Navigators whose Bible Study I had crashed as a Plebe.
By the end of my 2nd year, God had answered my prayer of learning how to talk about my faith and help others know Him. The Navigators had helped me a ton.
God Had Changed Me And My Parents Found Out
On break, the summer of 1985, my Dad with my Mom there with us mentioned something about Christianity that was not reasonable. I said that that was not what the Bible.
My Dad said,
How can you believe a 2000 year old book?
How can you go to church if you do not believe?
The unwritten rule in our house was to never talk about faith or anything personal. However, I had learned to talk about faith at West Point, so unconsciously broke that rule in mentioning the Bible. Further, my parents suddenly knew I was one of those hated evangelicals. I suddenly, to my surprise, knew my parents did not believe.
That short awkward talk changed our relationship forever.
We 3 decided silently to not talk deep again and abide by normal family rules.
My desire to go abroad for God grew year by year.
God Changed Me Part 2 and a Girl
In 1990, I liked a Christian girl, and we dated. She liked me but sensed correctly that I was not open to emotion. She hid that part of herself and was serious when with me. I wanted her to be happy with me. My parents taught us not to feel but really loved each other. Somehow my heart wanted that emotion from the model of my parents. I was frustrated with her for hiding.
I took a sheet of paper and drew a vertical line down the center.
On one side I wrote, What do I want from her?
Smile when with me
Be warm toward me (I was not looking for physical contact)
Laugh more when we are together
Be free and open like she was with her friends.
Share her heart
Then I wrote on the other side of the page, What does God want from me?
Smile when I am with Him
Be warm toward Him
Laugh with Him
Be free and open like he made me to be.
Share My Heart
I was shaking as I wrote, and by the time I finished I started to cry pitifully and filled the page with my tears.
A process started that took years and is still a work in process actually. I went from reviling people who felt to making what they had my goal.
God wanted my heart, and I did not know where it was. God wanted my heart and all these years, I had rejected every chance to open my heart as my parents made me afraid and even opposed to feeling. See also God Changed Me a Beginning.
A New Change of Direction Begins
Suddenly, I knew my main job was to learn to feel like everyone else could. To me, it was a daunting challenge.
Taking this on led me to read Inside Out by Larry Crab which pushed me forward to open my feelings. It helped me see that things like mercy and love could not be measured but were infinitely valuable like God who also could not be measured. I also read Hiding From Love by Townsend.
A breakthrough to talk deep, a rupture with my parents in faith, and discovery that God wanted my heart by age 25 and much bigger changes were coming.
Part 3 will come it seems