I had just come off a mini-deployment to the North Atlantic, six of the most miserable weeks of my life. During that time I had seen the sun a total of six days: the day we left Charleston, SC; the four days we stayed in Oslo, Norway; and the day we returned to Charleston. On the return trip, I had nearly been swept overboard by a large swell that caught me on the fantail of the ship after skirting around a hurricane. A fire hose dangling as a result of the storm found its way to my hand, steadying me and preventing me from being washed into the churning seas. The six weeks had been miserable.
Shoring myself up emotionally, I consciously decided to only bring “positive” reading materials and music on the approaching six month deployment. Along with the Bhagavad Gītā and Upanishads, I brought a dust-ridden copy of the Bible. My degree was in Philosophy, and I had adopted Ghandi’s definition of a Hindu (i.e. – “Seeker of Truth”) as my definition of a philosopher. As the ship made its way to the Mediterranean, I read the Gītā. An interesting story, it didn’t affect me as I was longing to be impacted. So I started reading the Hindu proverbs, the Upanishads. These impacted me even less the than the epic Gītā. So I started reading through the book of Proverbs in the Bible I’d never opened, and there I found it. I found Truth. I knew it was truth, because it was telling me all the foolish things I was doing, even calling me a fool. In my heart I knew it was truth, and I could either run from the truth or I could embrace it, letting go of my foolish pursuits, habits, and ways of thinking.
Finishing Proverbs, I read Psalms. Although I had been raised Catholic, I had begun to doubt God’s existence, but reading through the Scriptures, my confidence in God grew. Still, I wondered, who was Jesus? Yes, I knew and believed that God was real, but was Jesus all that my Catholic heritage had made him out to be? So I prayed: “God, show me who Jesus is.” On Good Friday, as I continued to read through the Psalms, delighting in the growing knowledge of God’s presence and activity in my life, I came across Psalm 22. My Catholic School upbringing had taught me about Jesus’ death on the cross, celebrated on Good Friday as well as the fact the book of Psalms had been written long before Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Yet at this moment, I read a prophetic description of Jesus on the cross in a document authored by King David:
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
"He trusts in the LORD;
let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him."
Psalm 22:1, 7-8 (NIV)
This opened my eyes to the Truth, and shortly afterwards, pulling out of Golchuk, Turkey near midnight, I walked back to the signal bridge. Looking into a starry night, making way towards our next port of Haifa, Israel, I realized that there truly is one God and that the power of man was so very inferior. Enjoying the wonder of His Creation, and with a great fear that I may be inviting some awful spiritual force to overwhelm my life, I asked Him to be my God, my Lord. I asked Him to rule over me, in me, through me and for me. It’s been a wild ride… and an awesome ride!