When I was an 18-year-old at boot camp, my bed was placed right smack in the middle of the row of twenty beds. We had two bays (two main big bed-room type rooms). Each bay had two rows of 20 beds in them. At the foot of each bed was a wall locker. Also, you should know that you get three chances at boot camp. If you fail a physical test (running, climbing, doing sit-ups, etc.), if you fail a written test (we had class-work each week as we learned about military history and the Military Code of Justice), and/or if you failed an M-16 (automatic rifle) shooting test, you would get “recycled.” You could get recycled three times before they “sent your tail back to Mama.” Boot camp was 8 weeks long. So, if you got recycled, you were sent to a sister-flight that was in an earlier phase of training. That way, you could re-take whatever you failed and keep it moving. You would remain in that flight until you graduated boot camp and went on to technical school.
Well, the girl who slept to my right got recycled. She was gone; her bed was empty. It was kinda creepy. Then, the girl to my left got recycled. She was gone; her bed was empty and it was even creepier. Then a new girl (kicked out from the sister-flight ahead of my present-flight) got recycled and she took up occupancy in the bed to my right. It was a little weird to have this new girl to my right, but it wasn’t as weird as the bed being empty. Then, a new girl took up occupancy in the bed to my left. Now, I had two new sisters. Well, then the girl to my right got recycled. I heard this was her third “fail” – so, she got her tail sent back to Mama. Yikes! I didn’t want that to be me. Then, the girl to my left got recycled! Now, I was beginning to wonder if there was something wrong with the karma in this section of the bay. I became a little fearful that I’d be next! I prayed every night that I would survive and that God would help me be successful as a soldier.
They gave us Sundays off to wash our uniforms, shine our boots, and go to church if we wanted to go. Me and a few friends would march across base to the chapel for Sunday service. It was great because they had an amazing choir! I can still hear the choir singing, “Aaaaamen, Aaaaamen, Aaaaaamen, Amen, Amen.” And then, they’d sing it again, and again, and again! I could have sat there till Jesus came back; it was beautiful! They handed out little orange Bibles which were small enough to fit in your pocket. Our battle dress uniforms had great big cargo pockets in the front thighs, so I put mine in there. I carried it around everywhere. I slept with it.
One night, I was reading Psalm 91:7-15, laying in my bed with my flashlight (it was after ‘light’s out’): “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you make the Most High your dwelling – even the Lord, who is my refuge – then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will treat upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
I’ll never forget how relieved I felt when I read this Scripture. It was probably the first time in my life where I read the Word and felt its profound relevance – like life – speak right to me – right through me – and fill me up in every part of it with strength, faith, hope, and perseverance. It was as if I received a “knowing to my core” that I was going to make it because God would do it in me, through me, and for me. From that moment on, I knew I’d make it! From then on, I faced each day with the confidence of Christ rather than the fear of defeat.
Recently, my best friend, Brenda, made me the most amazing – monumental – present for my 40th birthday! It’s a picture of me when I was 5 on a canvas with the Scripture: Psalm 91:14 beautifully placed around me. How amazing and good of God! How amazingly kind is God to inspire Brenda to do that for me? I praise God and I thank Him for Brenda and for getting me through boot camp and beyond... my fears.