In the first few weeks of fire academy, the instructors had us go through the entanglement box for the first time. We were blind-folded in full bunker gear with our packs on but off air. This was certainly a different experience. I had some semi-idea of what was involved but did not realize the full extent of the difficulty of the situation without “knowledge” of how to deal with the entanglements.
My first time through, my SCBA bottle became caught on one of the entanglements behind me. It took me a good 10 minutes at least to get unstuck with the help of an instructors counsel in the dark!. I was in a small space with limited mobility because of the bunker gear. There were some kind of barrels in the middle with ropes hanging across, one of which got me stuck. Without knowledge of how to swim through these things and use my hands to clear things away, it was an inevitable situation. But again this was a new experience for me. I became overly anxious, hot, sweaty and overwhelmed. This is probably one of two times that I thought I wanted to quit academy. But it was too late, unless I gave them money, so I was in for the long-haul.
After this situation, I came to another tight box with even more wires hanging from both sides. “Oh Lord how am I going to get through this one???” honestly I was praying at this point. I stopped and told the instructor this was not happening, I could not get through there. I was beat tired at this point. He explained several times how to do it. So with much hesitation, I went for it. Sure enough it wasn’t an issue, I made it through easily.
We did this drill two more times throughout academy. The second time, I was nervous, but I didn’t have any hang-ups and moved through it easily. The third time, was so much fun! I felt excited to do this again. We had partners, and even though it was a much harder course, we had learned to make it through and to help one another.
I look back to this situation and see several examples of walking the Christian life.
- How much we need others in our life to point us in the right direction when we don’t have knowledge or are learning a new thing. And though we can get hung up, these people are there to help us get out because they’ve been through it before. They have a visual perspective that is different than our own. (And the instructors weren’t blindedfolded!) “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” Pr. 11:14
- Sometimes we go through things, that we are unclear of the way, though we know there is an end. One of the harder things in the Christian life is the waiting of an outcome or waiting for an answer for prayer in regards to direction and understanding. Sometimes the Lord let’s us squirm, until we give up on self and our own way. He let’s us see that He’s got it under control, and we don’t! We just have to trust His voice. It’s frustrating to not see the end. This is how we come to know His voice in the darkness, He is our Light. “…and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.” Jn. 10:3
- Just like in other things, the more we go through trials, the easier they become. I remember the things I struggled with in my earlier Christian years. The anxiety and fear that would come. Now, being tested in similar things, I have more peace in the trial. Perhaps, because I have a greater understanding of the Lord’s will and purpose or because I know Him more as a Father than before. Or because I know how little I know, so I lean on Him more. I have learned to trust Him greater. The longer and more closely we walk beside Him, the more we will see these trials as adventures and things that only increase our love in Him.
- Learning to stay calm in the storm. The thing with firefighting is that there are possible situations in which you must learn to control fear and anxiety. If you lose your mind, it can be costly and dangerous and besides that you use more air from your SCBA if you are anxious. Just like in our walk with the Lord, when we are unclear of direction or the meaning or reason of a trial, we are tempted to get anxious. Jesus says, “Be anxious for NOTHING.” There’s never a reason to be anxious, no matter the trial. This is when we lose our minds, commit sin, do stupid things. “It is good to wait patiently for deliverance from the LORD.” Lam. 3:26 NET