More Than Existing (ESV)
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- Full Text: Read full text below
- Format: Folded Tract
- Paper: Gloss Text
- Size: 3.5 inches x 5.5 inches
- Pages: 6
- Version: ESV
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Be a Marine and get a Marine tattoo! Those were my two goals in life as I grew up. Raised in a patriotic home with a dad who had served as a Marine in the South Pacific during World War II, I regularly attended special celebrations to honor military veterans. The Marine Corps was an integral part of dad becoming the man he was. I wanted to be like him, so I enlisted in the Marine Corps after high school to pursue my dream.
During my first year in the Corps I noticed something missing in my life. I always had to be looking forward to something like payday, the weekend, or going home to be with my girlfriend. I couldn’t get up and say, “Today is worth living. There is a purpose for me today.” This empty feeling increased when I was assigned to Iwakuni, Japan in 1971. The thought in my mind was, “Rich, you aren’t really living. All you’re doing is existing.” Shortly after arriving in Iwakuni I met a fellow Marine named Jerry who began telling me about Jesus. He showed me John 10:10 and the words of Jesus spoke to me: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” It seemed as though Jesus would give me something that was 180 degrees different from what I was experiencing. With His words lingering in my mind, I continued to reflect on what they might mean, and what an abundant life might be like. I began attending chapel with Jerry.
I started off very well in the Marines. Graduating first in my class, I was promoted to Lance Corporal after only three days as a Private First Class. Then an event took place that jeopardized my “good Marine” status and made me look even deeper inside myself. Having scored three touchdowns in an intramural football game victory, I headed to the bars in town to celebrate with friends. After having a few drinks, I realized I was on duty and wasn’t even allowed off base. I still remember catching a Japanese cab back to my little Quonset hut on base, hoping and praying the whole way that I wouldn’t get caught. I knew I could face disciplinary charges and even get busted.
The next day, November, 7, 1971, I went to an evening chapel service. Sitting in the pew by myself, I silently prayed, “Jesus, if you’ll give me an abundant life, I want it.” While I understand that my experience doesn’t happen to everyone, I immediately had a sense of forgiveness and cleanness I’d never experienced before. I knew I’d become a Christian!
Not only did my life change that night, but so did my eternity. I discovered there was more to life than payday, intramural sports, or being with my girlfriend. My life now had purpose and meaning. I knew God loved me. I knew He would never leave me and I was His for eternity. I knew I had been forgiven and God no longer held my sin against me—all because of what Jesus did on the cross. I started experiencing the truth and power of His Word. I learned that He really is who He says He is in His Word. And on top of all that, I will spend forever in a place where all tears will be wiped away and “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). I now knew what Jesus meant when He promised me abundant life—I was living it!
You can experience it, too. Romans 10:9-10 says, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” There are no magic prayers to pray or words to say. Simply believe. Believe that Jesus died to pay the penalty for your sin. When you do that, the angels in heaven will celebrate by throwing a party (Luke 15:10). Confessing that He is Lord includes repenting of your sin—agreeing with God that His way is the right way—and living a life that is pleasing to Him.
I encourage you to read your Bible, and speak with God every day in prayer. Also, make sure to find a good Bible-believing church where you can learn, grow, and fellowship. As you walk with God, the abundant life that Jesus promised will be yours—for now and eternity!
Chaplain (Colonel) Rich Young
United States Army (Retired)