Discernment guides through foxholes of life

Published 8:00 am Sunday, January 15, 2023

By Steve Stricker

Discernment – “To understand or know something through the power of the spirit.” To discern God’s will, one must quietly listen to the prompt of the Holy Spirit. For those who know, no explanation is necessary; for those who don’t, no explanation is possible.

Even if you know, how can we discern if we are doing God’s will, or ours? Bloody hell!

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As a behaviorist, an incident on Thanksgiving morning at church made me realize how stressed, burned out I had become, and needed to step back for my own physical, mental, spiritual health.

Daily asking God to do his will, I knew this was right, but why? Why God, what now? Fr. Joe, now pastor in Jackson, MS, sent a text a few days ago thanking me for his Christmas card. Taking the opportunity,I asked – how does one discern the will of God?

“It’s the hardest that we can do.”

Although I attended Catholic school from kindergarten through high school, true faith eluded me until my dad died weeks before my freshman year in college and being lost, hurt, for the first time, asked God for help and that journey continues.

This faith voyage took a sharp turn in Vietnam, July 1969 – August 1970, where at the 18th Engineer Brigade Headquarters in Dong Ba Thin on the South China Sea across from the huge Cam Ranh Bay Air Base, just days in country, the largest rocket, mortar, sapper attack to ever hit that area was directly on top of me. I was blown out of my bunk, and it made all the news at home.

It was a horrific night in a sandbagged foxhole, with a death grip on an M-60 machine gun. Dawn finally pushed through the fire and smoke rising above that beautiful sea. I let go my grip, and thanked God for being alive. One year from a care-free fraternity boy to my first baptism of fire, I humbly accepted my death which served me well with a full year remaining in that hell hole.

And so many other life-death happenings – like staring into the jungle from the bunker where I would be all night, every five days, attached to Long Binh, 14 miles from Saigon, waiting for an attack. Months before during the huge Tet Offensive, 14 VC were killed breaking through the wire in front of this same bunker. So many incidents, between deathly silence. Thy will be done, Father.

Father God, you thankfully got me home. So much life since, and I am again quietly listening to you now trying to discern what you want me to do for you next. Peace out.

Steve is an Oxford resident, worked on Campus, received his Ph.D. in Counseling from Ole Miss, is an LPC, NCC, and can be reached at sstricke@olemiss.edu