I think it was in the fall of 1990. I was a volunteer fire fighter. One day we were called out to find a woods fire. I was the ranking officer present, so I set us out a plan. I called for the Forest Commission fire plow to assist. Fortunately it was available. When the plow and driver arrived we agreed on where he needed to start. I informed the others that I would be following the plow setting backfires. Oh, did I mention that this “fire plow” was a bulldozer?
Well that bulldozer started cutting a fire line. I was walking behind him with a Bic lighter and some dry sage grass setting a backfire. He noticed me and called me up and graciously loaned me his backfire starter, a fuel can of diesel fuel with a special end that allowed me to literally apply drops of fire to set the backfire. Definitely a lot quick than my little Bic lighter. Oh, a little more details. Where he stopped was a big patch of Kudzu, so thick you couldn’t see what was beneath it except where he had already cut the fire lane.
Here’s what I remember. I picked up the fire starter at the same moment he engaged the dozer. Something hit me square in the sternum and the pain was so intense, I saw nothing but something like a flash. I remember thinking, “I’m about to die!” See, I thought the dozer tracks slipped in the undergrowth and the dozer had just hit me. I couldn’t breathe. But when I caught my breath I was a few yards from the dozer. It wasn’t the dozer that hit me. There were some logs hidden beneath the Kudzu, and one of them attacked me as the track ran over it–hitting me square in the sternum. A little more details are needed.
Where we were was at the top of a hill. Remember, at the bottom of this hill I had already set backfires. For the uninformed, unlike me who walks uphill and runs downhill, fire does the opposite. It RUNS uphill. The dozer operator started to get off his machine but I noticed the fire running like the wind uphill right at us. I managed to motion him to get going, and I rolled to the other side of the fire lane. And off he went trying to outrun the fire. I grabbed my radio and managed to get 2 words out: “192 down!” That was my radio designation.
My fellow firefighters rushed to where I was. They called for an ambulance. By the time they got to me, I was able to breathe again, but it hurt to breathe. I tried to tell them I would be OK, just as soon as my chest quit hurting. But off to the hospital I went. After x-rays the doc determined nothing was broken. Just the wind knocked out of me and some deep bruising. And the point of my story?
Sometimes life is like this. Suddenly–unexpectedly–from out of nowhere we get the wind knocked out of us. It can be with such force that we get knocked back several yards from where we were. And all kind of thoughts can run through out heads. I know! In that particular situation, even though I had difficulty breathing, I let my training take over my thoughts and my actions.
Before the moment comes that hits you so hard that it knocks the spiritual breath out of you–remember what David remembered. When David was being hunted by his enemies, he remembered this:
I cried out to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy mountain. I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me.Psalm 3:3-4 (NLT)
This is why spiritual training is mandatory, not optional. By cultivating and working at this wonderful Grace-Filled Relationship, we discover the trustworthiness of God. When that fire was rushing up the hill at me, I would have panicked had it not been for my training. And when life hits you so hard that you go flying through the air, remember that God will fly to your side–and like David–you can rest even when surrounded by the enemies.