Friday, March 9, 2012

Do Firefighters do God's work?

Was I doing God’s work? I have been asked this question about my firefighting career and the answer seems simple, yes. But maybe it isn’t that easy. Why would God pick a miserable, unworthy, alcoholic to do his work?

No man or woman can ever know the mind of God I know that. I have had many conversations with God about this over the years. I know I talked with him often when what I was doing was important to me, but was it important Him?

I remember one Christmas morning in a beautiful home with the whole family gathered for the opening of presents and I was there doing CPR on the grandmother under the tree.

I remember the surrealness of it. The setting was right out of a Hallmark calendar. Myself I had spent that morning with my own family doing the exact same thing this family was doing but here I am trying my best to do all the advanced medical procedures I know on grandma.

I had a habit of praying to God under these conditions. Silently of course, didn’t want to spook the boys with overt praying (sorry about that God) on a call. So I would ask God are you going to help on this one? The outcome did and at the same time didn’t rest with me.

He would give clues though in small ways. Dead people and that’s what you are when you have no pulse and aren’t breathing, dead, are very difficult to get IVs on. The absence of a heartbeat flattens out a person’s blood vessels making the insertion of an IV needle very hard.

I had a reputation of being able to get those sticks when others couldn’t and I believe that was the direct result of my conversations with the almighty. I would once again silently pray that if it was His will that I get an IV then I’d get it and if it was my patients turn to board the heaven bus, I wouldn’t.

So was I doing God’s work? I have no idea. Over the course of my career I was a firsthand witness to those boarding the bus and never got used to it. It was like being the ticket agent for a flight you knew was going to crash. You still took the tickets and wished the passengers well. Buh bye.

I delivered nine healthy babies during my career and regular readers know that. I have never mentioned the many times it wasn’t a healthy baby. There were more deliveries than nine but only nine successful births.

So when that happened I didn’t question God on why that happened, I had to turn my focus to the living, the survivors. Only years later and many gallons of vodka later did I realize that I too was a survivor of those events.

I would drink and wonder why did I end up in this job? Why me, I never wanted to be a firefighter. Did God pick me and if he did why? Why did I have to see this stuff? Why did I have to listen to the anguished cries of the survivors and yet no one heard mine?

Probably because my screams were as silent as my prayers, they were private not for public consumption. Now I’m not saying I was hand selected by God to be a firefighter but God does have a way of picking losers to be his agents, and I did feel like a loser for much of my life.

God has a strange roster of losers he has worked with, and once again I am not claiming divine selection or placing myself in the direct company of those listed below, just saying God makes strange choices.
Noah got drunk.
Abraham lied about his wife.
Sarah laughed at God.
Jacob was a deceiver.
Samson had serious anger management issues.
David was an adulterer and a murderer.
Elijah struggled with depression.
Peter denied Christ.
Paul was Saul.
Paul said it best:
“Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of ‘the brightest and the best’ among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses chose these ‘nobodies’ to expose the hollow pretensions of the ‘somebodies’? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That's why we have the saying, "If you're going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God."  ” (1 Corinthians 1:26-28 MSG)

Did I do God’s work? Perhaps and am now finding that my chances to continue still exist.
I’ll return to fun stories next week, promise.


Kathy said...

This was one awesome post. I loved the biblical references and the illustrations and examples you used. It would have been G0d's will no matter what you did. He answered your prayers though either with a yes...the person would live or no...the person's time was up and there was little you could do about it. It takes a special person to be a fireman. You have been there and helped loads of folks when they really needed you most. Another great post Tim.


Fireman said...

Thanks Kathy and you are right it was never in my hands as much as I wanted it to be.

Jo said...

Very inspiring post, Tim. I hope you know that your hands were guided by Him only because you asked for that in your silent prayer. You had the will, you had the knowledge and you had the desire to do His work. You still do. Every word you write may be the one word that someone out here needed on any given day. You are still doing His work, Tim.
You inspire me, one way or the other every time I read your work. You're a good, good man Fireman. ♥

Anonymous said...

L-O-V-E-D this! I just want to say that I'm very proud of you and we are all hand crafted by God. I know it must be very hard at times, but you're lucky to have the honor and privilege of saving lives and God bestowed that upon you. Thanks for sharing this! :)

November Rain - k~ said...

(quietly... simply... claps my hands and smiles genuinely in your direction)

the cook3 said...

My son, sober make no mistake about it your writing is doing God's work with posts like this one! You make me proud!
LOve ya

Fireman said...

Thank you Jo, funny thing many days I sit down to write without an idea of what I will say, just like today, and He guides my fingers. Because you know I did want to be a writer.

Fireman said...

Thank you Beach, and you are very right, I have some funny quirk that causes me to forget the saves and I should do that more.

Fireman said...

Dear Miss Rain, thank you smile accepted. A comment from my father :) thanks Pop I am proud to be your son.

Sharon Greenthal said...

Such an enjoyable blog! I've awarded you the Versatile Blogger award. Stop by my blog at to pick up your badge and guidelines for this award. Have a great weekend!

Corey said...

Well put brotha... You done real good like...Dang!

Jenn said...

Great post-- I would say that I don't know why God chooses any of us to do His work--but it starts with the asking. Yes your silent prayers--my silent prayers--their silent prayers. I read once that when we ask Him to do His will--be prepared to be stretched beyond our imagination. Why stretch us? Because He needs to mold us into His will and transform us to the next level, like a potter and his clay, or something like that. I don't know--I heard it--and it stuck with me for years. I prayed to be a Mom. He let me be a Mom of 5 wonderful children, blessed me with a work from home job, and a husband that is such a blessing--but never prepared me to have a child, and perhaps two with special needs. I wanted to just be a regular Mom-- didn't want the heart break that came with the rest. Took me awhile to realize that he put those precious special needs children in my hands because HE trusted that I could do that job and do it well. He knew he could mold me to the next level. Somedays I cry out how unfair it is--because there is heartache when you have children with special needs---and I just want things to be "normal" again. Then I'm somehow reminded that this is part of His plan and I need to lean a little more on Him. It all works out. Yet honestly, I'm sometimes scared to "ask" again because I don't know how much more stretching I can endure. Make sense?

Okay--sorry I rambled in a reply-- I'm trying to snap out of the "why me" mode :D Cheers, Jenn

Fireman said...

Wow, Jenn thank you for that sharing. It is so easy for any of us to get the "poor me's" and all we need to do is consider the next person's life to know how blessed our life really is. And thanks for showing me that what I did in that job was no more challenging than or less challenging than anyone else. It's all His work.