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I was raised in a Christian home. We went to two church services every Sunday, and another on Wednesday night.

During those services, God was presented to me as a Supreme Being that could… and should… be called on for protection during times of peril. As I grew up, I asked God many times to rescue me from some situation or another that I’d gotten myself into… a situation I felt was dire enough to warrant his attention. There came a time in my life, however, when I stopped asking God to bail me out.

Even though it was a long time ago, I remember that day very clearly. It was during the dry season, somewhere in the Republic of South Vietnam.

We’d just gone back into the area that they’d pulled us out of to call in an airstrike. We were right in the middle of contact when they pulled us out. We’d lost people and were back on our heels. Radio discipline was broken. Our platoon sergeant was falling apart. It was a mess.

So, anyway… we’d just gone back to the same place they’d pulled us out of. We were gearing up for patrol, and I was feeling pretty wormy… shrugging in my web gear… double and triple checking everything. I looked around at the rest of the squad, trying to see what was going through their heads… trying to see if they were feeling as wormy as I was. Nobody would meet my eyes.

That’s how it was. This was the alone time, when everybody had to face their own stuff… when there was nobody but you and God.

It was the time when I usually said my prayers, when I promised God that if he’d just get me through this… if He’d just keep me alive so I could go back home… I’d do this and I’d do that. I guess I promised lots of things during those alone times.

That particular alone time wasn’t any different from the others. I was scared shitless, and I sure wasn’t ready to die that day. True to form, I started to pray for protection… but, for some reason or another, I stopped.

Maybe I knew that I couldn’t… or wouldn’t… keep those promises I made. Or maybe I really didn’t want to keep those promises. Or maybe I just knew that God could see through all my bullshit. To this day, I’m not sure why, but I didn’t pray for God’s protection on that day.

For me, the time for prayer was over. It was time to face it.

Straight up.