Bob Barker made me perform dozens of push-ups in San Diego. Okay, maybe Bob didn’t actually stand there and yell orders at me. It was really a Marine Corps drill instructor that tormented me all because of Bob Barker. No, the revered television game show host wasn’t touring the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD). Actually, Mr. Barker has no clue that he once was involved in making me do push-ups.
The drill instructor had left for awhile and had all of us Marine recruits gathered in the day room to once again watch The Sands of Iwo Jima starring John Wayne. This was during the days of the Iran Hostage Crisis and this epic movie about the Marine invasion of Iwo Jima and ensuing flag raising event over Mount Suribachi was the favorite movie for drill instructors to use in an attempt to motivate us boot recruits. In fact, at one point during boot camp we were told all the hostages had been killed in Iran and for a few days we were the most motivated platoon on all of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD).
I was sitting right by the television. Someone encouraged me to change the channel and like an idiot I gave in to the peer pressure. As I flipped through a few channels we saw The Price is Right. We had not seen a woman in weeks and the sight of those models showcasing the prizes on Bob Barker’s epic program were just too much for us. Everyone was so glued to the screen, that no one heard the drill instructor coming back into the room. Suddenly a voice permeated the fun emanating from the screen. In fact, I believe his voice may have registered on the Richter Scale.
He demanded to know who had committed such a heinous crime as to touch “his Marine Corps television.” Confident that we were a band of brothers, I knew that this would be a secret we would all take to our grave. Imagine my shock when approximately 75 fingers pointed toward me. As I recall over 30 years later, I think this drill instructor was intent on making my heart explode in my chest as I did squad thrusts, push-ups, sit-ups — back to squat thrusts, then more push-ups, then more sadistic exercises wallowing in the hot sand of San Diego.
I was guilty and I deserved the punishment I received. In fact, there are more intense punishments that the beloved drill instructor could have taken. I had defied his standard of conduct he expected of us Marine recruits. In like manner, all mankind is guilty and in need of a Savior. Think of the nicest person you know. That person has evil in his heart and stands before God as a guilty person. Enter stage right. We have a carpenter from Nazareth in Israel. For three years, he had traveled around the region of Judea ministering to the sick, the hungry, the diseased and even the dead. In fact, Jesus never attended a funeral that he didn’t disrupt.
No one stepped in to grant me a pardon for my “Bob Barker” lapse of judgment. I spent my time in the sand pit and paid my dues. However, I wouldn’t want to pay the debt I had for my sinful nature. That penalty can only be paid by spending an eternity in hell. But, Jesus Christ came and died on a bloody piece of wood to pay for my sins. In fact, through his sacrifice my standing before God is as if I had never sinned to start with. That drill instructor did not have the power to grant me a reprieve as if I had never turned the channel. The crime had been committed and is part of my personal history. But, in God’s eyes he has taken that sin and all other sins I have ever committed and cast them as far as the east is from the west. That’s a grand prize that far exceeds anything Bob Barker could ever give by guessing the price closest to the real retail price of a can of soup.