cheating deathKnowing where I was didn’t stop my soul from almost jumping out of my body when I heard the metallic cough of an M-16 less than a half a click from me. I watched and the enemy returned fire immediately, four rapid shots, a Soviet-made AK-47. They were just below the surface of the Middle Eastern sand in a makeshift bunker – not a lot of protection from either ride.

My mind was processing the grim reality playing out right before my eyes so quickly it all seemed to be happening in slow motion. I saw the grenade tossed toward the Marine who opened fire just down and to the right from our God forsaken sandy position. He was crouched behind a burned out dump truck, the stocky smudged faced kid saw it too and was moving post haste toward my position.

The air was filled with ear breaking gun shots and metal as the searing sand danced in close proximity to the soldier who was fast approaching my reporter’s safe zone and bunker.

It’s amazing how fast the mind can generate thoughts, as quickly as the half a dozen plus Islamic soldiers could fire their semi-automatic weapons.

I didn’t blame the kid for running to the next closest shelter, it was the only option he had to save his life, but he was bringing the enemy  fire with him, and my position offered a somewhat questionable grace from the enemy… we were completely unarmed…

I knew my death wouldn’t keep all of those firing their rifles from a good night’s sleep if it happened by chance or otherwise.

Three more what I think were Marines seemed  to appear like a mirage rising to life up and out of the sand returning fire to help protect their comrade until he reached safety. The grenade ignited the silt and shook the earth with vengeance. An RPG, (rocket propelled grenade) ripped toward the soldier and exploded right beside the head of the youngster… tearing the helmet and skull with fury…

Just as soon as that registered, the haunting sound of the RPG tearing the sky flashed in my direction, and just as the stocky smudged faced Marine landed in the bunker. Instinctually we both moved as hard and fast as we could, each leg pushing against the giving sand trying to outrun death.

I made it out first, but the repercussion slammed me to the sand that suddenly didn’t feel so giving. It sent the Marine airborne the height of a semi-tractor trailer and further in distance.

I got up to run but found my world spinning and  surrounded by the sneering enemy, I had no means of protection as they filled the young Marine with bullets with not a hint of mercy.

I was breathing like a fish out of water, my heart pounding in my ears like gunshots as I woke from my dream… It was so vivid I felt as though I were cheating death.

It didn’t take but a few air gasping minutes of pondering and catching my breath in the dark of night to interpret my dream; I and we often walk voluntarily into harms way spiritually and physically while willfully forfeiting the protection of our Father.

This life is a battle, even if it is unseen to our senses. When we fight it, in and of ourselves in this flesh, pain and death is imminent.

Wisdom travels behind the hand and grace of God…