“Mom, I had my death picture taken today,” says my son over the phone.
“What? Your what?!?”
“My death picture. That’s what the guys call it. We have our picture taken in front of the flag wearing our dress uniform. If we die in the line of duty, that’s the picture they put on my casket and in the newspaper.”
“Oh,” is all I can say.
Eli’s a firefighter.
He’s been thoroughly trained on a course filled with obstacles designed to prepare (or purge) recruits who desire to fight fires. To remind them of the perilous nature of the job, many of the obstacles are named for fallen firefighters. The Bob Lee Wall is a six foot high cement wall. Bob Lee couldn’t scale a similar obstruction, was trapped in a fire and died. The Denver Drill is named for an downed firefighter who perished next to a window because his team couldn’t get him out of the fire from their position outside the building. The Comrade Course is a series of cement tubes, 3 feet in diameter. Recruits have to wriggle through them in a hundred pounds of turnout gear, secure a “victim” and drag them back through the tubes to safety.
It’s serious training because lives depend on it.
I hope and pray I never have to use Eli’s death picture.
But I know that fire and smoke try to kill my son on every call.
He has to train if he wants to stay alive.
He’s put in the hours and the training to get the experience and knowledge he needs to stay as safe as possible.
And to keep others safe.
How do we prepare?
Not for a building or car fire, but against hellfire.
Because we have an enemy, don’t we?
John 10:10 says the thief comes to kill, steal and destroy.
Kill our relationships.
Steal our joy.
Destroy our future.
The same verse says Jesus has come to give us an abundant life.
How do we partner with God to live the abundant life?
We have to train.
We pray to hear God’s voice and know his heart is for us.
We read our Bible to discover the promises of God for our lives.
We develop relationships with other believers so that when our proverbial house is on fire, we are not alone to suffocate in the despair, the loss, the grief, or the hardship that is part of life.
Others may go blithely through their days hoping they never get caught in the fires of life.
We go into training.
We train like our life depends on it.
We train so we can give spiritual CPR to a soul who is withering.
We train so the living water in us will douse out a destructive smoldering embers.
We train to bring hope to souls lost in the smoke of a firestorm of lies.
We train like lives depend on it.
Scripture Refresher: The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10 (NKJV)
Prayer: Jesus, thank you for the promise of an abundant life in you. Guide me in my training to hear from you, to serve you and to help others. Make me fearless. Give me hope for a better future. Let me see the way out of a hard situation. Be with me. Amen.
PS If you are in a proverbial house on fire, call for help. Do not languish or wait while the fires of hell close in on you. Call for help. Call your pastor or your mom. Call the police or a counselor or a doctor or a friend. Don’t let the fires of hell consume you.