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    I was raised in a religious family. We went to church every Sunday and on Holy Days, though I can remember thinking it unfair to be asked to attend church more than once a week. During my youth, I learned a great deal about God, His Omnipotence, His Omniscience, His Mercy, but I never managed to learn enough to make a real spiritual connection with Him. Still, I believed about God and never questioned the legitimacy of the Christian Faith.
   When I reached High School, like most young people, I began to question everything, God included. It was at this time that I witnessed, indeed was a part of, one of God’s Miracles.
   My family went to visit my older sister who lived on Lake Worth in Texas, and while my siblings meandered about the shore, I went on a walk to sort out the questions pounding in my head.
   As I followed the rough, rocky terrain bordering the lake, I searched for direction, for an assurance that what I had been taught about God was indeed true. Eventually, I just asked God “What should I believe?” By now I had come to a fence that blocked further progress, so I turned to go back. Rounding a curve in the shoreline I saw my little sisters attempting to negotiate a narrow path high on the wooded cliff that surrounded part of the lake. Then my youngest sister slipped and fell.
   I cannot convey the panic and terror that rushed through me as she hit the rocks some fifteen feet below, flat on her back. She screamed once and went silent. Running over to her I lay myself over her body to keep her from slipping further down the shoreline and yelled (screamed would probably be more accurate) for my other siblings to run and get Mom and Dad. They had been gone only a short time when my sister got her breath back and was able to talk. I asked her if she could move her fingers; she could. I asked her if she could move her toes; she could. In a moment I was carrying her back to the house, asking her questions to make certain she was all right.
   When all was said and done, she suffered no injuries; no scrapes, bruises, broken bones, bumps, contusions--you get the picture. I realize she didn't fall from the Empire State Building and that the younger you are, the more supple your bones tend to be. But her escape from injury was a Miracle to me. I know that accident was going to happen no matter what, but I also know that God used that potentially disastrous event to answer the question I had just asked Him. “What should I believe?” “Believe in Me.” God’s Hand cushioned my sister’s fall and provided me with an absolute, if somewhat startling answer.
   There followed years of spiritual shadow where I continued to attend church but still managed to evade the true spirit of Christ. Once, as a token of faith I fasted three days on bread and water, held an overnight vigil in the Chapel and was knighted the following morning by the priest. After that, for three torturous months I was a “good boy” before falling by the wayside of familiar sins. It was a stumbling step in the right direction, but I was still missing the point of salvation. I was trying to seek salvation through works and wasn’t doing a very good job.
   Then there was the music. I have always been a singer. I enjoyed Choir and Ensemble in High School and even Cantored at the Church for a while, but it wasn’t until I heard my first Don Francisco song (Got to Tell Somebody) that I found any interest in songs of Faith. Soon after this introduction to contemporary Christian Music, I joined the United States Marine Corps.
   There were many opportunities to find Christ in the Service. There seemed no end of individuals who wanted to evangelize, who urged you to recite some packaged prayer and then declared you had been saved. I do not minimize their efforts, but salvation, for me at least, didn’t come through recitation. Instead, it came from a most unexpected source. At Camp Hansen, Okinawa I met Armando Gutierrez who became my bunkmate and who taught me more about the true spirit of  Christianity than any number of Evangelists ever could. But still, I had yet to be born again.
   This changed when I returned from an extended deployment to Korea. We disembarked on a Thursday and were immediately informed that there was to be Regimental Inspection on the following Tuesday. Our gear being a complete disaster from being in the field for thirty days, we set to work. Armando (who had not been deployed to Korea and whose gear was therefore in order) invited me to a Christian conference to be held that Saturday and Sunday at a hotel on the far side of the island. The cost was $40.00.
   Now, $40.00 wasn’t easy to come by as an enlisted Marine, especially when I was sending most of my money home to my wife Cindy, but I happened to have that exact amount in my wallet. I had no interest in spending it on some conference, nor did I believe it possible to attend since there was so much to do even apart from the inspection. But I reasoned that God wanted me to go, so I made an unenthusiastic request to attend. To my surprise (and aggravation) I was given permission.
   Enter the Holy Spirit. Of course, this part of the Trinity had been working away for some while but I hadn’t recognized it. Knowing that if I went to this conference I would probably fail the Regimental Inspection, I seized upon one of God’s Promises--Romans 8:31-34. I remember having a conversation with God about it. “Okay, You promised it, I’m calling You on it. If I go to this convention, I’m counting on You to take care of the Inspection.” More than that, I began thanking God for the good things he was going to do for me that weekend.
   The weekend came and went. The conference was uneventful. I purchased a few books and attended various workshops that were all very nice, but there was no parting of the heavens nor much of an impact on my spirit. On Sunday night we returned and I began the futile effort to prepare for the Inspection.
   On Monday we were secured from duty at noon so we could make final preparations for the following morning. Frantically, hopelessly, I worked until about 1900 (7:00PM), when a messenger came into the barracks and announced the inspection had been canceled. We rejoiced, and I thought it remarkable that God had been able to confound the power of a Regimental Inspection.
   Still, there was no realization of what I had done and what God had done. I had stepped out in faith, and God had been faithful. It was early one morning several days later as I sat in the S-3 Office catching up on paperwork and listening to Don Francisco that it hit me. The song “I’ll Never Let Go of Your Hand” had just started playing when I realized that this was God’s promise, not in some abstract Bible Study way, but His Personal Promise to me. I had already accepted His Word as Truth and now I accepted his Salvation. There was no vestige of “He promises that to everyone.” At that moment He was speaking only to me.
   So, though I always knew that God could part the Sea, calm the waves, cure the sick, and raise the dead, it was the miracle of the canceled inspection that convinced me of His Power and set me on the path of His Mercy.