I was on my way home from work one day, and I was stopped, sitting at a stoplight. The evening was bright and sunny, one of those cloudless blue sky days. I was just listening to the radio and all of a sudden I hear sirens and a horn blaring. From the opposite direction comes a fire engine, enroute to a fire or an accident somewhere.
As the truck is passing by, I’m watching it and I look in the rear of the cab, behind the driver where the rest of the firefighters are. They’re busy, putting on gear, layer after layer. I catch a glimpse of this one fireman, on the side of the truck closest to me – he’s young and I can tell he’s fit, well trained. And he too is busy, putting on his gear.
But as the truck turned the corner in front of me, I was able to see into his eyes, and in them I saw a laser focus. Just staring straight ahead, getting ready, preparing himself – mentally – for what he and his crew were soon to encounter.
I thought to myself, what is going through his mind? They don’t know what they are about to run into. Maybe they had an idea about the type of situation, but they don’t know for sure what they were going to be dealing with until they get to the scene. I could just tell his mind was turning. He was going through some sort mental preparation, some sort of routine he always goes through on the way, to prepare himself for what is to come. He was preparing himself to go into the fire.
Such is life. Life is full of all kinds of fires, and obstacles, and accidents we can’t see, that we don’t know are coming. We can be cruising along nicely (or so we think), and BAM! – we’re engulfed in flames of turmoil and confusion. Sometimes it’s a small dumpster fire, other times its an inferno. And we didn’t even see it coming. Every time though, it’s a humbling experience.
As I thought about the firefighter, what he has seen and experienced already in his life. I thought how rewarding, and yet scary and uncertain that profession must be. I thought about how as a firefighter, you just never know what you are going to run into, and you simply have to trust. Trust in your training. Trust in your equipment. Trust in your crew. Trust in the tools and abilities you’ve been given to get you through it and do your job, and help some people along the way.
But then I think about life, and realize, we all do this every day. We encounter “fires” on a daily basis – every one of us – that we did not see on the horizon, that we did not know was coming. I’ve been witness and I’ve experienced such fires in my life.
We have to have laser focus, every day, and prepare ourselves for the unknown.
We need to prepare ourselves to run into that fire, because we never know when we just might have to.
I learned a lot from the 5 seconds I observed that firefighter that day. I learned that I have to be prepared – prepared for the unknown. I learned that I need to have a humble confidence in how I handle those fires in my life. A clear, hard, and realistic self-appraisal of what I am and what I’m not.
A humility where I know my strengths, those abilities that God has gifted to me, those tangible things I can see in my life with which I can make a difference in someone else’s life. I need to trust in them, and trust in the One that gave them to me. Trust in my training, trust in the tools He gave me.
And a confidence – a self-confidence to know that God is there, guiding me through those times where I can’t see, when I don’t know how big the fire is, where I may not do so well. Trusting that He will provide the means and the support along the way through others to help me get through those fires and make a difference.
It takes a laser focus to make it through life with this humble confidence. One which I’m trying to grow, one which will help me run into the unknown fires that come about with a humble, confident trust in what God put me here on this earth to do.
How do you approach those fires you encounter in your life?