Steve A. Stone
How I learned to love God
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By Steve A. Stone
January 14, 2021

Dear Friends and Patriots,

I don't know how many of you are actual believers in God. Of those who claim to be, I have no idea how many are "casual" believers, or how many are 100% dead-certain He either does or doesn't exist, or has any say about earthly matters. I only know what I know as truth. This is my truth.

When it comes to God, Jesus, and all things holy, there are three kinds of knowledge. There's the kind that comes from being told. When we were little, we all were told things and we either believed them or not, but we were just told. We were too young to have independent knowledge or experiences that could confirm things to us one way or another. Later on, each of us either believed or didn't. When asked, we were all pretty cocky in responding according to our leanings. The smarter people might claim to be agnostic. The truly dumb ones claimed, and may still claim, to be atheists. But none of us knew. We thought our belief was based on knowledge, but it was the arrogance and ego inside us that was informing us, not actual knowledge. Most of us didn't know, we just had adopted a belief, probably based on the word of some person we thought we admired or some event in our lives that may or may not have turned out exactly right. The third kind of knowledge is based on experience. Things happen to all of us once in a while that are a bit beyond rational explanation. I think, or rather I hope, we've all experienced such things. They aren't just coincidences or happenstances, you understand. In reality, there are very, very few coincidences or happenstances in life. Using those terms, as well as "serendipity," is our way of being dismissive of things we can't comprehend. But if we are truly lucky, we begin to understand that there are great truths in nature that beg for our awareness and understanding. All those truths relate to our relationship with our Creator, His Son, the Holy Spirit, and the angels that often do the bidding of one or more of those three. There are mysteries in all that, but there are truths that are real.

You may not know God. You may not hear Him. But that doesn't mean I don't and I can't. I can assure you with 100% certainty that I've felt the hand of God on my shoulder many times in my life, and I've had conversations with Him that lasted for days on end. He has wrapped me in his arms and saved my life on many occasions.

At first I wasn't aware. I was told, and I professed to believe. But, I had no certainty, no experience to validate what I'd been told.

That began to change on one summer day in West Texas. It was 1968, and I was supposed to be visiting my Uncle Flem and Aunt Katherine, in the East Texas town of Jefferson. I did visit with them, but told Uncle Flem I had somewhere I needed to go—that I'd be gone a few days, but would be back. I told him not to worry; that I had someone I wanted to see. I didn't really think about what I was doing, I just did. I got in my new 1968 Chevy Nova and headed west. I drove past Dallas on the then-almost new I-20. If I remember correctly, the Interstate was complete from the Louisiana state line up to Weatherford, on the west side of Fort Worth. It was somewhere west of Fort Worth that I had an encounter that rocked my consciousness.

For an unexplained reason, I decided to proceed to my destination on a two-lane road after leaving the Interstate near Weatherford. I headed off toward Snyder on US 180. Somewhere between Weatherford and Snyder, I was rolling along at 65 miles per hour when a kid about my age driving a huge tractor and trailer stacked with hay bales pulled directly onto the road in front of me. He should have seen me. He must have seen me! But he pulled in front of me and blocked the entire road. When he did see me, he stopped. As soon as I realized what was happening I stood on my brakes and locked my wheels. I just knew I was going under his trailer and started praying instantly for help.

Help arrived, right on time. I was too close to that tractor and trailer to have stopped. I wasn't an experienced-enough driver to know I should put my car into a slide, so I kept the wheel straight and stood on those brakes, praying as fast and hard as I could for God to do something—anything! And He did. When I finally stopped skidding, the nose of my Nova was just under the edge of that trailer. I looked up at the kid on that tractor. He was white as could be. He had his right arm slung over the wheel and his left hand was gripping the back of the seat. He was looking me dead-on in the face. We probably both looked like we'd just been electrocuted. I knew that's how I felt.

I paused for a few seconds, then put my three-on-a-tree in reverse and backed up a few yards. The other kid finally got his tractor moving and cleared the way for me. I drove on to my destination, the tiny town of Seagraves, without further incident and had a nice couple of days with my Aunt Bessie and Uncle Bishop. I still don't know why I drove almost 500 miles that day, but now am certain I was supposed to have that experience for a reason. It was not my wake-up call, but it did make me think. I didn't understand it until years later.

My real wake-up call came one night in my home town, Longview, Texas. I was in the Navy at the time and had taken a month of leave from the submarine I was assigned to, a boat I went out to sea on for five years, USS NARWHAL. I'd happily tell you much more about that great ship, but it's not the point of this tale. It's just context.

I started my leave in the first days of October 1973. Do you remember that month? It's very famous. Something happened that everyone watched. It wasn't what happened to me, but what happened in the Middle East—the October War. The October war started on the day I left Groton, Connecticut, headed for home. I didn't know about it until I was down in New Jersey, headed for my Uncle Johnny's house in Hampton, Virginia. I won't tell you more about that visit, though I'm sure it might fascinate you. This is all just more context, not the tale.

There was no miracle on my journey, and not for days after my arrival in my home town. I won't tell you that entire tale, either, because many might just think I fabricated it. It's a story that still gives me the shivers.

The Cliff's Notes version of that story is that I accidentally encountered one of the most evil beings in Earth. He was a demon if there ever was one. I wasn't looking for trouble with that guy. I was just an enlisted sailor who went home to visit friends and family, but walked through the wrong door one night and almost found myself on the wrong side of the gates of Hell.

That guy, the demon, put an M1911 .45 cal. semi-automatic pistol to my head one night and frog-marched me to a place where he could confine me. He put me under the guard of two sheriff's deputies who's patches identified them to be from Cherokee County, which was two counties over from my own. The demon said he was going to "decide what to do with me, once and for all." He had mistaken me for a U.S. Treasury agent who he'd been warned about. He had a lot to hide. He wanted to eliminate a threat. I was that threat, or so he thought. I sat where he put me and tried not to look at those two deputies standing in the doorway. I was scared witless.

I knew the demon was going to decide my fate and there wasn't a single thing I could do about it. Then, just when I was in my deepest moment of despair, I heard a voice from out in the hallway, on the other side of the wall from where I sat. I thought I recognized that voice. It said, "You boys are a bit out of your jurisdiction, aren't you? Why don't you just move along home now and maybe I'll forget I saw you tonight." I saw the deputies look at each other, then move off out of sight. The next thing I saw was the hat and head of a local policeman, an officer whose last name I knew only because he had arrested me the night before for drag racing. He caught me and two guys from Wisconsin who also drove a 1968 Chevy Nova going over 100 mph down US80, in the middle of town. But, I digress.

That policeman's name tag said "WHITE" on it. But I later understood what he really was. He was the answer to the prayers that were furiously pouring from my brain—d irect appeals to God to do something for me. Officer White was sent to save me. His first words almost made me cry out loud. He looked at me sitting in the semi-darkness and asked, "Steve, is that you?" Even though I'd seen him the night before, why did he recognize me? Why did he remember my first name? Not that I bothered to ask. I was too busy thanking him, thanking God, and telling Officer White I needed his help or else I wouldn't live to see the sun rise. He said, "Give me a minute, Steve. Let me see if I can get you out of here." It was the longest minute of my life. I knew if Office White couldn't save me, I was done for. It was only two weeks ago that I learned what was planned for me that night. I'll tell you how I found out later on. Right now I need to tell you that Officer White came back in the room I was in, chided me for not having my "play time" in a different county, then began to instruct me. He told me to go straight home and not leave before dawn, then to leave the county as soon as I could the next day. He said he bought me time, but if the sun went down the next day and I wasn't out of the state, he couldn't offer me any further protection.

I promised Officer White I'd leave before 0800 the next morning, and I did. But, just before I did I made a phone call to the local Chief of Police, a man named Roy Stone. I identified myself and asked him if he knew who I was. He said he did. I said, "Then you know my father, too." He said he knew both my parents by sight and asked what he could do for me. I told him to ask Officer White about the night before because I didn't have time to tell him about it. I told him I was calling to ask him to protect my parents; to ensure no one came around and harmed them. He promised me he would. The last words I ever spoke to Roy Stone were, "Chief, if anything does happen to them you need to know I'll be coming back and I won't be coming alone. I'll have some real backup with me and the end won't be pretty for some around here. You need to clean this mess up." He told me things were already moving in that direction, but that I needn't stick around to watch. He urged me to get on the road and go back to Connecticut. Evidently he already knew everything he needed about me. I hung up and got in my car. My parents were standing in the front yard, somewhat confused. I told them I had to go, and I had to go NOW! I knew they didn't know what to make of any of it. My last words to them on that day were, "If anything around here for the next month seems to be strange or scary, call Roy Stone and tell him you need him. He said he'll come. Don't ask me any questions. I have to go." With that, I drove off.

A couple of months later I read articles in TIME Magazine about two separate events that happened in my home county. One involved that demon who was going to kill me. The article I read identified him enough to where I was dead certain it was him. He'd been arrested and tried for murdering his father-in-law. He killed that man with a fully automatic Thompson .50 cal. machine gun while he sat in his Lincoln Continental. The article went on to explain the background behind the murder, but I won't recount it here. Just know it was salacious in the extreme. The jury and judge put the demon away for life. Reading that article was like getting hit by lightning. That animal had almost killed me. If God had not sent an angel disguised as a local police officer, he would have, too.

The second article I read in TIME Magazine was about my home county's Sheriff's department. The FBI had been watching several counties in East Texas for a long while. Not long after the judge put the demon murderer away the FBI raided those counties and arrested almost every Sheriff and deputy in a six-county region. The whole lot of them were tried in turn in federal courts and were sent to prison for a whole laundry list of major crimes, including murder, facilitating prostitution, kidnapping, violation of federal gambling statutes, running protection rackets, facilitating drug importation...you name it, they were into it. Most of the local people around all those counties were clueless that they were surrounded by evil people of the first order. I was just as clueless as any of them. I promised myself I'd never be that stupid again, and I haven't. My eyes were opened. They've never been shut since.

The third time I remember God reaching down and saving me was on US 90 one afternoon in 1998. I was heading east out of Pascagoula, toward my home, just two hundred feet into Alabama. I was chattering away with my now late wife, Irene. I can't remember what had me so intrigued that day, but I was bending her ear. I noticed a large flat-bed truck coming along a side road on my right. It was the kind of truck you see carrying wrecked cars; the kind where the flat-bed is hydraulically operated and a car can be loaded onto it by a winch.

I was casually watching the truck as I prattled on. Then, he did something I couldn't believe. He pulled onto US 90 and was moving directly across. He evidently wanted to get across the median into the west-bound lanes, but for some strange reason he didn't see me. I knew instantly I couldn't stop in time. Unlike that time in West Texas, I had 30 years of driving experience by then, and reacted with what I thought was instinct. Without a conscious thought or even a break in my conversation I yanked the wheel over hard to the right, stomped on the brakes to initiate a slide, then just before I reached the truck, I hit the gas pedal as hard as I could. The car did something like a snap-turn to the left and we went around the back of that truck. I let off the gas as soon as I knew I was clear, stomped on the brakes again, straightened the car out, and continued on my way. I didn't even lose my train of thought or the thread of the conversation.

Irene was terrified. She yelled at me to shut up. The she said, "What just happened? How did you do that? We should have hit that truck." I just looked at her and said, "But we didn't honey, now what was I telling you?" She was truly rattled by that experience. She gave me really strange looks for days after. I could have told her what happened, but I never thought she could understand. But, I did. By that time I knew. I knew exactly what had happened. Even though I didn't break my conversation to beg, God reached down inside me and moved my hands and my feet. I didn't do a thing except relax and enjoy the ride. I hope you know what I mean by that. I knew Irene wouldn't. I never, ever told her.

I had many things happen to me since that proved over and over again I was being watched over. I can't say why. I can only say I'm perfectly aware that it is so. He's caught me when I was knocked out of a tree. He cushioned my fall from the roof of my one-and-a-half story garage. He did let me hurt a bit from that, but only a bit. He let me live on Dec. 28, 2019 when I fell off the new garage roof I was constructing. Most people die from falls like I took.

I did have a broken collar bone, but didn't tell Irene about it until later. She had told me she wanted to go to church on Saturday night for some event or another. I don't remember what it was, but it was Saturday night. After my fall, I managed to get to my kitchen. I lay prone on the floor and let the cold tiles cool me down. I was in a power-sweat from the pain. After a few minutes, I went upstairs and took a shower. When I came out, I asked Irene why she wasn't getting dressed. She replied, "Dressed for what?" I told her I thought she had wanted to go to church at 5 p.m. for whatever the event was. She looked a bit befuddled and said, "Steve, that's next Saturday." I responded with, "Well, that's good actually, because I need to get to the hospital."

I won't tell you the rest of that saga, because it's not any more germane than any of my other digressions. The point I'm making is I knew I could have easily died. Two days later, I went out and looked at the place where I'd landed. There was a length of 2x4 I remembered. It cracked three of my ribs when I landed on it. The collar bone was broken earlier in my fall by a rafter I rebounded from. The thing about the 2x4 that caught my eye was the 16 penny nail that was protruding from it. It should have penetrated my skull, but it didn't. That fall may have been my next-to-last warning. I'm not certain of that yet, but I do sense God is a bit tired of my occasional carelessness. I promised him I'd pay much more attention. And I do.

The last part of this epistle happened last week. I think it was last week. Things are moving so fast for me I can't keep up. A Facebook friend of mine called me up from Texas. His name is William Webb. He goes by Bill. He said he was in town and needed to talk to me. I told him where to go that I was certain was safe. He told me a classmate of mine was with him, and he wanted to talk to me, too. We met at a restaurant I knew was safe for us, because none of us goes out of the house without a sidearm. I carry two. I'm fairly certain those other men do as well, but I'm only certain of one each.

We all ordered some chow and began to talk. I told Mr. Webb, who I knew long ago as "Ivy," of the last conscious memory I had of him before seeing him last week. We were in the 7th grade then, walking home together after school. It was 1964. He may have been around after that, but I have absolutely no memory of ever seeing him. I know he didn't graduate from the same high school I did. I had never even thought of him until one day when I was on a page dedicated to people who went to my high school. He was discoursing with one of the girls I knew back then. She called him "Ivy," not William or Bill. That brought back a flood of ancient memories. I clicked onto his page and saw a visage. It was a tall, thin young guy dressed in an olive-drab fatigue uniform, carrying an M-16. It was a photo taken in Vietnam. I stared at it for a bit. YES! That was the Ivy Webb I knew, only older. Now, over 50 years later, here he was again. Why?

What was up with that? I didn't know. But I watched his posts and I began to see other posts from a man named Guy Mitchell. Who was that? I didn't know. I don't remember any Guy Mitchell. I asked Ivy who he was one day. He said Guy graduated with me in '69 and served in the Army with him in Vietnam. "Whatever you say, Ivy." I have absolutely no memory of any Guy Mitchell. But, there he was, sitting across the table from me. We had a nice, chatty visit. I think I did most of the talking.

All of a sudden Ivy grew deadly serious. He told me he and Guy had driven from Texas to tell me some things. Then, he began to tell me those things. They were warnings. He told me to pay attention. He didn't need to. I was hearing him, as they say in the Army—Lima Charlie. Loud and clear. After he'd told me what he came to say, Ivy and Guy said they were going back to Texas. I tried to get them to stay a while longer and attend an event I was going to that night. Ivy said, "No, we have to go back now. People in Texas are calling for us. They're afraid and want us back."

I left them there and went back to the place I stay at night now, not my home. I thought about that entire scene. Two guys who came to see me out of the blue, to tell me some things I needed to heed. One, someone I had no memory of since one specific day in '64. The other I swear I have no memory of at all. Why did they come? What was behind it?

It took me two days to understand. They were sent to me. Those two were angels, disguised as old friends. They came all that way because they were sent to me.

One thing they said that I will share with you. It was something both of them imparted in conversation. I was telling them my story about the demon you read about above, only they were getting the details, not the Cliff's Notes. Ivy and Guy looked at each other finally and Ivy said, "Guy, wasn't that about the same time those headless bodies started showing up down in the Sabine bottom?" Guy nodded and said, "Yeah, Ivy, I remember that. There was a lot of them, too." That was when I learned what my fate might have been that one night so long ago. That's when I understood exactly what my first angel in disguise had saved me from. Maybe I don't want to know what these most recent angels are trying to save me from now. Maybe I won't live long enough to find out, regardless of when my end comes. I just know who they were and understand their true purpose.

If you've read everything up to this point, the title way up at the top may make sense to you already. This isn't the story of how I came to know God, as many claim. It's the story of how I came to love God. There's a huge difference. I'm not certain any human can truthfully say they know God. The Bible quotes God as telling us we can't understand His ways. But, if we're truly lucky and have that personal relationship some people will tell you about, you can truly love Him. I know He's always been there for me when I needed Him the most. He's saved my life on numerous occasions, just as I've testified above. He's near me now, helping me write these words.

I also know those people who popped into my life for unexplainable reasons—they were angels sent by Him to help me. I pray there will be more, and I also pray you'll see them and be helped by them, too. We need all the help we can get now. If things spiral out of control, it's not just us who are in trouble—it's the entire world. Look for those angels in your life. If you know what to look for, you might just see one.

This is my truth.

In Liberty,

Steve A. Stone

© Steve A. Stone

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Steve A. Stone

Steve A. Stone is and always will be a Texan, though he's lived outside that great state for all but 3 years since 1970, remembering it as it was, not as it is. He currently resides in Lower Alabama with a large herd of furry dependents, who all appear to be registered Democrats. Steve retired from the U.S. Coast Guard reserves in 2011, after serving over 22 years in uniform over the span of four decades. His service included duty on two U.S. Navy attack submarines, and one Navy and two U.S. Coast Guard Reserve Units. He is now retired after working as a senior civil servant for the U.S. Navy for over 31 years. Steve is a member of the Mobile County Republican Executive Committee and Common Sense Campaign, South Alabama's largest Tea Party. He is also a member of SUBVETS, Inc., and a life member of both the NRA and the Submarine League. In 2018, Steve created 671 Press LLC as his own marquee to publish his books under – he does it his way.

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