3 Lessons From A Firefighter’s Daughter
My dad wore the smell of smoke like a business suit. He was a firefighter. As he battled the flames that threatened people’s lives, he brought the fumes of his heroism home.
Before his death two years ago, I asked what made him successful through 28 years of service. I wanted to tuck his expertise into my heart. You see I also fight fires.
Not the blazing from a building kind.
Instead, I fight the circumstances fueling difficulties kind. You probably have too. Our circumstances may differ. But it’s likely our challenges share common ground.
Here’s what I mean.
As I listened to my dad recount His glory days, another Glory appeared. With each lesson my father shared, my Heavenly Father echoed a truth to set me free.
Dad’s first lesson: Stay low. That’s where the oxygen is.
I needed that.
In the weeks prior to my father’s passing, I struggled to catch my breath. Grief has a way of suffocating the soul unless we’re properly resuscitated.
Are you breathing? Particularly, as you think about who’s in your life or who’s not – or why.
Spiritually, it’s hard for me to inhale or exhale when I lose my perspective in Christ. But prayer is my divine respirator. It infuses me with the reality of His love. (Romans 8:35-39)
It’s how I get my “saved by grace” view of the Cross instead of a “why am I still a victim” view of my life. In His Presence, worshipful whispers replace whimpers of fear, rejection, failure and regret.
But just as this breathing lesson sunk into my soul, Dad shared another truth: Keep the water in front of you.
While trying to advance through a fire, he held the water hose between his knees. This maneuver allowed the water to soak his path – even if he made sudden turns. As Dad plowed through a blaze, the water blasted the flames quenching every threat in sight.
When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up the flames will not consume you. (Isaiah 43:2b TLB)
Warning: Our hurts can consume us if we keep revisiting the reason for our pain; and keep equating the pain with our worth. However, as we release the hurt to God, living water wells up in our soul. (John 4:10-14) It quenches whatever burns into the fabric of His will for our lives. It refreshes us with His truth:
For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29 TLB)
The glory of His Presence incinerates every enemy of His purpose as He heals and protects His child.
Hence, my dad’s next lesson.
I asked him about the toughest part of fighting a fire. He paused. After clearing his throat of painful memories he said, “Children — especially the ones who are afraid you can’t rescue them.”
I wanted my father to dazzle me with another firefighting technique. I thought he might surprise me with his secret fear. But his statement about children told me something about myself instead.
At times, I’ve failed to trust God in my fiery trials. I’ve doubted His love and wrestled with His wisdom.
And yet, I’m amazed that the Hand that made the universe reaches out for us. The Heart that gave His only Son for our sins pursues your heart and mine.
Then Dad asked me a question.
Do you recall “the fireman’s carry?” I nodded and smiled. It is a rescue position where the firefighter places a person over his shoulder. Those rescued are unable to see what’s ahead or behind. They can only see the ground passing beneath them as the firefighter carries them to safety.
It’s the kind of rescue I see the Lord doing for Israel:
In all their suffering he also suffered, and he personally rescued them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years. – Isaiah 63:9 (NLT)
He wants to do the same for you and me. As we rest on His shoulder, we’ll see the scorched earth of our hurts, fears and failures passing beneath us – through all the years.