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Following Jesus (continued)
Walk with me for a while
The journey so far
I did a hub on how I came to faith in Jesus a few weeks ago and it's gotten so many comments both here on HP and on facebook that I thought that some 'follow up' might be in order.
After I finished the last hub I kind of thought that I'd left the story at thirty years ago and anyone reading it might think that the story finished thirty years ago, they wouldn't realize that in many ways the story was only just beginning and was about to get way more interesting!
Actually as I've told folks some of the story over the years people have said that I should write a book about the adevntures, but the truth is I've never really felt that anyone would want to read it! Maybe I was wrong, the only way to find out is to write the story and see what happens, so maybe I'll write a hub or two and see what happens!
In the last hub I told you that I started to really think through some of what I believed in Northern Ireland, We were there on 'Active Duty' around the time that the Falklands war took place and to be truthful as a squadron we felt a little cheated as we'd been taken out of the 'line' to get ready for Ireland but really hoped that orders might get changed and we'd be sent to the Falklands!
That probably sounds really weird to most folks, but the fact was we'd spent years training for the real thing, and the Falklands was just that! It was a full scale war and we'd been training for years, at last we might get the chance to show the country that all that money they spent training and equipping us was worth every penny! But that wasn't to be.
When we got back to Germany after the tour we found out that our Regiment was being disbanded and absorbed into another Regiment, but I was being posted out to a unit back in England, there were six of us going, but Ironically I was posted to the unit that went to the South Atlantic just after the war and relieved the unit that was there for the fighting (I was kept back on the 'rear party' but the other guy posted with me was sent down there)
Fasten your seatbelts, THE RIDE'S A BUMPY ONE!
It wasn't long after I got to England that I started getting serious about my faith. I'd been a believer in 'name' pretty much since I was about fourteen, but Ireland had forced me to look at whether Jesus was worth listening to!
Here was teaching by a man who taught us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, yet we were busy trying to kill them and I was in an organization that taught us how to kill and did it very well. Some Christians even told me that they thought it sinful to be a soldier and we should all be Pacifists! (I'll be honest and while I admire those who take that stand I could never do it!).
One thing I realized was that if I was going to be serious about Jesus then I better actually learn what he said, so I got my Bible out and began reading, Have you ever tried to read an old King James Version of the Bible? I managed for a couple of weeks but then discovered that there were modern translations. The first one I could understand was the Good News Bible so I started to read, I'd decided that I pretty much had the gospels 'sussed' so I started with the book of Romans.
To me this is really important because if you're going to follow Jesus you have to learn that it isn't just 'talking to him' (prayer) that counts but listening to him and one of the main ways he talks back to us in through the Bible!
Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.— 1 Corinthians 10 verse 13
Be honest here (For those who are believers)
How many have read the Bible all the way through?
How to upset your C.O.
That's easy! and it turned out to be in God's plan for me!
It turned out that at the time I joined the unit the government had just decided to re-form the Airborne Brigade, a unit of the Army that would be a 'Go anywhere' fight in any terrain and at a moment's notice unit, and we were to be their Helicopter support which delighted my C.O. as he wanted to be a paratrooper and was taking great delight in telling me that I'd be doing 'P' company (in the US it's called Airborne school) to which I replied
"Sir, with all due respect, anyone who jumps out of a perfectly servicable aircraft when it's going to land anyway has rocks for brains!" (I never said that I was bright!). He couldn't discipline me over it as it had been an 'informal talk' we'd been having and he'd just 'volunteered me to go do six weeks Jungle warfare training with a llight infantry unit in Kenya.
When he calls, he makes the way
RAF Brize Norton. Where we left from.
Our eventual destination.
Winter in Norway is cold!!!
When you've seen Hunger
I'm glad I never prayed this!
They say that once you've been to Africa you're never the same again, I think that was and is true for me. Yes the Army paid for me to be there, officially we were the to learn how to fight in a Junge environment, but unofficially we were also there to help the Kenyans build schools, hospitals and just about anything else they needed.
The agreement was that if the Kenyan government would allow units of the British Army to train there then the British government would build schools, Hospitals and other infrastructure, part of the deal for us being there was to build an extension to a school out in the villages that had been built a year before.
It was also the first time I saw real hunger?
Even now, thirty three years later I can still see the little boy's face, we'd just finished for the day and I'd got my food from the mess tent, I was heading across the compound but there was a young boy, about six or seven years old just looking at me.
He wasn't starving (I found out later that the famine in Ethiopia about three hundred miles to the north was just starting) but he had the look that said he hadn't eaten a proper meal in days, I couldn't help myself, I just walked over and gave him half of what I had!
The corporal in charge went nuts with me, he was totally convinced that the boy was going to come back with villagers in the night and steal the food or something! I didn't care! I'd done what I thought was right and I slept like a baby that night where the corporal was up all night worrying about the camp!
It's also when I stated asking if God might want me to do something different?
WHEN YOU ASK THAT, EXPECT AN ANSWER AND IT'LL BE AWESOME!!!
When God answers
You hear Christians talk about the promises that are in the Bible. There are literally hundreds, but there are two that are especially important to me, I won't tell you which verses they are, see if you can dig them out but here they are.
"Behold I'm with you, right up to the end of the earth" (read the very end of time itself!)
My favorite is this one
"For I alone know the plans I have for you, prosperity and not misfortune, and a future that you hope for. You'll come to me. and you'll call to me and I'll answer you when you seek me with all your heart"
If you work out where they're found then leave a comment below (or visit my FB page if you want to)
For me, the journey was only just beginning, but there were some things that needed to be dealt with first and for that, well talk of the ends of the earth!!!
Equator to the Arctic
That was my next trip, all paid for by Her Majesty (not her personally but her armed forces) and it was literally
"Hebb, Get your arse down to the quatermaster, hand in your tropical gear, draw out winter gear, YOU'RE GOING TO THE ARCTIC!!!" I gues the Sergeant Major still hadn't forgiven me for humiliating him and the CO in front of their commanding officer!! (They really shouldn't have tried to make my section look like idiots!)
By the way. I got about four weeks to get used to the idea and it was in winter!! from forty degrees plus to minus forty!
Three months in Norway (Okay, we didn't actually go to the Arctic until the end of March about two months into the deployment and were only there for a month or so!) during which time God was dealing with some pretty serious stuff for me. I discovered that my nature is to hold grudges and I really had to get on top of that one! I didn't want to and God and I had a big row over that, but in the end I gave in and learned to hand it over to him, but that's another story.
One thing you might be thinking to ask is "was I going to a local church?" and the answer to that was, when I was at the base yes, i went to a local fellowship, but otherwise how could I? Most of my last year in the Army I was on the move doing stuff like six weeks in Kenya or three months in Norway, working on a major military show in Cardiff (one month) was also in there and the last two months I spent working with the US 7th Air Cavalry so how could I get the time?
That last year in the Army was when God was showing me that he had something different for me than just a 'normal middle class life' but that'll have to waitat