After being raised in what I perceived to be confining Christian environment (although now I am very thankful for it), I felt like I was experiencing real freedom for the first time in my life. I was really enjoying myself and the new friends I was making, who were also heavily involved in drugs. As I look back now, I was so naive concerning all of these things and the drugs. It's a wonder I'm still alive. I honestly believe that God was looking after me and He saw the direction my life was going and He decided enough was enough! He decided it was time for the rock to come crashing down on me and that is exactly what happened!
The experience with the convulsions woke me up. It made me start to realize that I was going too far and getting too reckless with the drugs, so I stopped doing everything except smoking pot. Little did I know that I had become mildly addicted to heroin? It had actually been a couple of days since I had used any heroin, because I wasn't at the place where my body craved it constantly. As I came back from the dispensary that night after getting the depressants, I got into my bunk and tried to go to sleep, but my mind was wide awake. Unbeknowingly, I was beginning to go through mild withdrawal symptoms from the heroin and could not sleep. So once again I began to pray. I was getting more petrified all the time as I kept thinking back about the convulsions I had gone through earlier in the day. As I began to pray, I began to see my whole life flash before me. God was showing me how He had been with me at each stage of my life from my very earliest memories. It was an amazing thing! I was experiencing a vision from God. There were so many things that He showed me in that vision which I can't really get into now, but as the vision did progress He took me into the future and showed me the calling that He had for my life. It was something that was so indelibly stamped upon my soul that I could never shake it in the three years that followed.
During the next three months, I was a nervous wreck. The experience with the convulsions and the vision that followed caused me to begin to reexamine everything I had been doing. At times it seemed like my mind had completely blown up. It was as if it had been shattered into a thousand different pieces and now I had to try and put them all back together. I remember the night of the vision saying to God as He was revealing the calling He had for my life, "Yes, I will allow You to work Your will in my life, but You will have to take it slow and easy." I wasn't ready to tackle it all at once.
One day several months after this had happened, I was prompted to pick up one of the New Testaments that I had placed in my wall locker when I first arrived in Vietnam. My mother had given me a New Testament in the Living Bible before leaving home and a friend of our family had given me a New Testament that had belonged to her son, who had been killed in Vietnam. So I had both of these New Testaments in my locker which I had not bothered to look at since arriving in Vietnam.
As I went to my place of work that day, I pulled out the New Testament and began to read it. To my surprise, one of my buddies had also brought a Testament with him and we both began to read together. From that point on, lots of wonderful things began to happen with our group of friends. Everyone started getting interested in the Bible and Jesus although none of us really knew what we were getting into. We would sit around and smoke pot and read our Bibles and tell everyone about the wonderful things Jesus was doing in our lives. As I think back on those days, I am continually amazed at the grace of God, because we were really getting into Jesus, but we were still in our sins, not willing to repent of certain things we were doing. Our spiritual senses were being awakened, but I doubt whether any of us were really saved at that juncture in our lives.
This was a very peaceful and happy time in my life as I began my search for spiritual truth. Even though I had been raised in a Christian family, I don't think I was ever really born again as a child. I spent the remainder of my tour learning about the Bible and Jesus, but still unwilling to come to a complete repentance in my life.
For the next three years, upon returning home from Vietnam and reentering civilian life, I was not ready yet to completely settle down and become a Christian, although I knew I probably would someday. During these three years I worked at a number of jobs and continued to use drugs, mostly pot and LSD. I was really empty inside. I knew I was losing what I had begun to find while in Vietnam, but I was stubborn and unwilling to repent. These were actually the three most miserable years of my life as I was having a real difficult time fitting in anywhere.
I finally got fed up with everything and put a pack on my back and began to hitchhike around the country. This was really exciting for awhile as I covered most of the United States and Canada in a year simply by hitchhiking and riding freight trains. I have lots of stories I could tell you about this period of my life, but what I want to say is that I was still carrying the vision and the calling the Lord had given to me and trying to fit it into everything I was doing, but continually coming up empty. It was like having a piece to a puzzle, but not finding the right puzzle to fit it into. I had even begun to look into some of the eastern religions and metaphysics. I had also been introduced to the books by Carlos Casanada on the teachings of Don Juan. I found these books highly interesting as they were about the peyote religion. I actually got quite caught up in all of this and found myself getting more and more separated from reality and not even being able to recognize what reality was anymore. I was now thoroughly lost in my mind.