I don’t talk much about my time in the Marine Corps. It is not a particularly easy time for me because I see it as one of my biggest failures – and that is saying a lot. So, every year I struggle with feelings of guilt and remorse on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. There are other times during the year that these feeling overwhelm me but especially on these two days I feel the most regret for not completing my tour when I was a Marine while so many others not only completed theirs but died in the process.
Every time I meet someone that served in the Corps, I want to reach out a hand and say “Semper fi”, or “Hey Devil Dog” but the inevitable stares me in the face and the realization that they’re going to ask me what my MOS (Military Occupational Specially aka your job) was or how long I was in and I retreat – something I am quite good at – into my silent shell and hide until the fear or more likely, the Marine, passes.
Yes, I know once a Marine always a Marine and I did graduate boot camp with my platoon – 2nd Battalion Plt. 2021 – so in that light I am, in fact, every bit a Marine as every other person that has walked across that tarmac but I still feel like I quit on God, my country, the Corps and myself.
I doubt that anyone who has ever spent time on Parris Island, regardless of their faith, has not prayed to get out and go home. Life on the island is hard, really hard if you’re an 18 year old kid that’s led a pretty soft life – and let’s face it in
comparison to boot camp most of our lives have been soft up to that point – but how many people get that prayer answered the way they want. Or, they way they think they want. Had I known they feeling s I would fight, the guilt that would consume me or the anger I would harbor toward myself, going on 25 years now…well, hindsight, huh?
This is not meant to be a sermon on being careful what you wish for – I still say pray to God for what you want with reckless abandon – and I am not looking for sympathy for the stupid choices I have made. There are far and away many other stupid choices I would prefer to have your sympathy for. No, this is a chance for me to point you to Romans 8:28. This verse says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Now, I need to point out that I do believe this verse covers everyone – or can – that lives, now, tomorrow or yesterday but only impacts your life if you profess Christ as savior.
We all make mistakes, take wrong turns and make bad decisions. In short we all do stupid stuff – again see most of my life for a long colorful list – but that does not have to define us. We can allow that to happen and we can make our lives miserable – another bad decision.
God wants only the best for us but that starts with our willingness to be obedient to Him and that obedience begins with recognizing that we are separated from Him by the sin in our lives.
Deal with that sin – and apply Romans 8:28. Don’t live – or die – with the regret of not accepting the gift that costs you nothing but cost Jesus EVERYTHING!