What turned me into an entirely different person—a new and improved version?
In all the growing and learning in my 75 years, there was this one profound experience that was transformational. Certainly at West Point we experience profound changes in our lives and we experience growth, but transformation is deeper and permanent.
Like most of us in the class of 1970, my four-year experience at West Point branded an intense imprint on my soul. I was changed from a fun-seeking high schooler who did pretty well academically and leadership wise, into an organized, responsible, patriotic adult. Changed, but not transformed.
Transformation happened to me on Saint Patrick’s Day, 1977. I had been out of active duty for about two and a half years, struggling in the insurance business. Linda and I had two great kids. Bridget was six and Brad was three. We owned a nice house, two cars and a dog. By all outward appearances we were the model American young couple. But I was broke and sinking deeper in debt. I had adopted a business lifestyle that was generously lubricated with alcohol. I still maintained some of the vestiges of my West Point standards, but these standards of duty, honor, country were eroding around the edges.
A friend of Linda’s named Martha told us about these new classes going on at our church. I had a great respect for this woman so I joined her and Linda at the meetings, led by lay teachers mostly women. I listened to the presentations and silently criticized them. They gave a new lesson each week from a pamphlet called “Finding New Life In The Spirit” based on the Bible. We had homework, and it was in these study times in my home office that something penetrated my pride.
The first chapter of the pamphlet was titled, “Salvation”. There was a Bible verse to study for each day before the next class. I read them and I got curious. We had to read two chapters of the Bible, the Gospel of John, chapter 3 and the second chapter of the Book of Acts. Something new and strange was churning in my soul from these readings.
At the second class I listened again with all my arrogance. At the end of the session one of the leaders said, “We are going to pray for you now.” That meant one of the leaders would put their hand on my shoulder and pray right in my face. That was a new thing. And I was uncomfortable. But during my Bible study at home the next week it happened. That transformational moment when I became a different person. In the quiet of my study in my basement I told God I would give my life to Him. In the deepest part of my motivation I changed direction from chasing after money and material gain to chasing the Lord.
From that moment every decision I made was empowered by God’s love. Eventually I reentered active duty, retiring in 1993 to answer God’s call into Christian ministry. I became an ordained pastor with the Assemblies of God and later a chaplain. Now I write Christiannovels and teach the Bible. I found a new life in the spirit and today I am enjoying every day, the good ones and the bad.