12: Miracles in Uniform

12: Miracles in Uniform

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen

Miracles in Uniform

When a man is at his wits’ end it is not a cowardly thing to pray, it is the only way he can get in touch with Reality.

~Oswald Chambers

I graduated from college in August 2001. A month later, the tragic events of 9/11 unfolded and changed my life forever. Before college, I had been an enlisted man in the Army. In the wake of the attacks, I felt the need to serve once again; however, that didn’t happen right away.

I’d worked at a grocery store for over eight years but, foolishly, quit six months prior to graduation with the rationale that I’d have little trouble finding new employment upon graduation. I’d saved enough money to make ends meet as long as nothing went wrong. Unfortunately, within two weeks of quitting my job, the transmission blew in my car. It was all downhill from there.

I was blessed to have friends who were also small business owners and there to help during my time of need. I got pretty good at cleaning carpets and digging trenches for irrigation systems.

It helped, but it wasn’t enough.

The Army kept telling me I would ship out in just a couple of weeks, so I wasn’t able to get a real job.

My credit got so bad that I got turned down for a paper route.

Like I said, times were tough.

Along this dark journey, I’d often find myself in prayer, simply asking the Lord to help me make it. At the time, I thought it meant I was asking Him to relieve me of the challenges in my life. In hindsight, He did exactly what I asked of Him. One day at a time, He helped me make it.

I finally reported to Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Benning, Georgia, one year to the date after 9/11. As my luck would have it, I was assigned to Alpha Company, notoriously known as “Alphatraz,” for a grueling fourteen weeks of training. I’m not exactly sure when, where, or how, but sometime early on I injured my right knee. What initially began as mild discomfort eventually became unbearable, excruciating pain.

Not only did I have intense pain in my knee, but it would also buckle several times throughout the day, which often sent me tumbling to the ground. Steps were the worst.

This went on for several weeks.

I was hesitant about going on sick call, because an extended profile, which restricts physical activity, would cause me to miss training and likely be recycled to another company. Those who do not complete OCS are reassigned to positions and units based on the needs of the Army.

The culminating event of my ordeal took place during the early hours of a chilly morning as we started what was to be a relatively short road march, fully equipped with rucksacks and training weapons, known as rubber ducks, in hand.

Within a matter of minutes, I was using the rubber duck as a crutch as tears streamed down my face. I gave it all I had but was eventually forced to abandon the road march and take refuge in the truck following our formation.

Make no mistake, the pain was immense, but the tears had more to do with the trials and tribulations I’d endured over the past year combined with a real sense of hopelessness.

Not only had the past year been filled with hardships, but so had much of my life.

I’m a lifelong stutterer.

My parents divorced when I was two. My father was a diabetic, lost his vision, and died when I was just eight years old.

We didn’t have a lot. I grew up with nothing. Like many folks, I’d worked full-time while going through college, excluding those last six months.

Nothing had come easy, and all my eggs were in this basket.

By the time I got to sick call that morning, the swelling was immense and my knee was about three times its normal size.

I was given an initial ten-day profile and would indeed be recycled. I was devastated. I lost all hope.

I prayed that night. I mean, I really prayed.

For me, praying, most of the time, is as routine as brushing my teeth, turning off the light, and closing my eyes. It is just another step before going to sleep.

This night was different. It was really different.

I felt connected in a way I had only experienced on one other occasion. I asked the Lord to help me get through this difficult situation. I asked him for courage, strength, and perseverance but never asked to be healed. The tears were flowing as I eventually fell asleep.

As usual, the lights were abruptly turned on the next morning at “zero dark 30.” Upon first call each day, we had only five minutes to be standing outside in formation ready to start the day.

As I readied myself to jump down from the top bunk, I grimaced while anticipating the agonizing pain that would soon follow. However, much to my surprise, I stuck that landing like Mary Lou Retton at the ’84 Summer Olympics.

There was no pain. Zero. Nil. Nada. Nothing. The swelling had disappeared, too.

I was overwhelmed at the miracle before my very eyes but wasn’t completely convinced, so I maintained my profile for the remainder of that day.

I experienced no setbacks, so I returned to sick call the next morning and asked the doctor to rescind my profile. He accommodated my request.

I graduated from Officer Candidate School and was sworn in as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army on January 10, 2003. I went on to serve three tours of duty in Iraq where I experienced even more miracles in uniform, ones that can only be attributed to divine intervention.

I drove past an improvised explosive device that failed to explode.

A rocket-propelled grenade skipped across the hood of my vehicle.

A mortar landed approximately fifty feet from where I was standing without detonating.

The day I raised my right hand and stated the oath of office is undoubtedly the proudest moment of my life. I know without a shadow of a doubt that it never would’ve happened without the blessing of a miracle that fateful morning at Ft. Benning.

Prayer got me to OCS, but a miracle inspired by the power of prayer got me through OCS and has allowed me to serve admirably as a commissioned officer for the past decade.

I am a walking, talking true testament to the power of prayer and the existence of miracles. Believe.

~Jody Fuller

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