4 times

I was standing in Fresh & Green's making a life-altering decision: which flavor of Coffee Mate did I want? Coconut creme? Chocolate Raspberry? Peppermint Mocha? Vanilla? But if I went with vanilla did I want sugar free or regular? My pondering was interrupted.

"I bet you can't guess how old I am."

I looked around. The only person near me was an elderly gentleman in a wheel chair. He had an American flag wedged between the cushion and the back of the chair and his hat indicated that he was a veteran.

"Oh, I don't know sir," I replied.

"93," he said.

He had been a hobo before the second World War, riding the rails from Vegas to Philly. The seasoned hobos were mentors to the newer hobos, telling them which trains to ride and how to hop on and off trains without injury. He decided to turn his life around and joined the army. By the time the war began he was a 5 stripe sergeant. During the war his plane caught fire over Axis territory. He was a machine gun operator; he hadn't been properly trained to jump out of a burning plane. In the process, he shattered his hip. But he was alive. He was taken prisoner by the Germans, forced to go on a death march from the Danube to Czechoslovakia. Eventually he made it home to America. He invented some sort of contraption that holds his right leg in place after a failed hip replacement surgery.

"I'm going to show you an ugly picture," he said, smiling mischievously. He pulled out his wallet and showed me a picture of a young man in uniform.

"Is that you?" I asked. Yes, it was he told me.

I don't know if his story is true. I have no reason to doubt him. I don't know why he chose to share his story with me amongst the dairy products. But I do know this: his view on the matter will stay with me forever.

He didn't rant about how he was a war hero. He never once said that he was a hero at all.

No, instead he said:

"God was with me 4 times."

No matter what part of the story he was recounting, he stopped to say how God had been with him in that time.

I pray that one day, I will look back on my life and see not my own triumphs but instead see the times that God was with me.

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