"You Respond How You're Trained!"

I was watching TBN, the Christian television station the other evening, and caught an interesting episode of the Mike Rowe show, "Somebody's Gotta Do It!" I have been tuning in to his programs for the past few years. They are informative and entertaining too! This week's show focused on a special program based in Texas that trains first responders to handle a myriad of disasters. The training program is called, "Disaster City!" They mainly target the equipping of fire fighters to handle chemical plant fires, explosions on oil platforms, terrorist bombings and natural disasters.

The key to the training at this 52-acre site in College Station is that they provide realistic simulations that give the emergency responders the best and real life settings for disaster training. Their website says, "The mock community features full-scale, collapsible structures designed to simulate various levels of disaster and wreckage which can be customized for the specific training needs of any group." Why is it important to have simulation specific training? The director of operations summarized the intent, "You respond how you're trained!" (https://teex.org/about-us/disaster-city).
Photo Courtesy of
Sherman Fire Department, IL

I have a couple of neighbors who are firefighters. I admire their dedication and commitment to serving the public. We live in a small community where our first responders are a part of a professionally trained volunteer unit. They have regular jobs, but "stand at the ready" to respond to fires and other emergency situations including calls to the home for paramedic assistance. Our local fire protection district has been organized since 1954 and covers some fifty square miles of area populated by more than seven thousand people. We are grateful to have the selfless service of these brave men and women who help to protect our growing community! 

I have often wryly remarked over the years that many of us want to get our Christian instruction in a one-hour Sunday worship service with heart warming music and a light sermon or in a week-night tightly focused and one-time class experience. It's as if we audaciously say to God, "You've got my attention for the next 60 minutes. Give me your best shot!" We want a pedagogical approach (classroom more than action) to being equipped rather than the daily instruction of walking with Christ in real time and through real life challenges.

We pray, "Lord, teach me to pray! Help me overcome!" and what we mean is that we want immediate answers to our often shallow and selfish praying. We want answers for how to deal with difficult people and situations, but we don't want to have to learn how to relate to these complicated folks who work or go to school with us, live next door to us or perish the thought, attend the same church with us! We cry out, "Oh God, this is too much! Can't you just give us skill-building strategies for relating and surviving in a short class of instruction and preferably by an engaging, well-liked teacher?!"

It doesn't take a trained spiritual director to analyze and diagnose our problem! We don't want anything that requires time, discipline, preparation and dependence upon the Holy Spirit each day come what may! We want an easy three-step solution that we can apply to any and every situation and we want it now! Shame on us for not understanding that God's work takes time to transform us into the likeness of His Son.

Paul gives a pointed explanation of the process of our development as Christ-followers, "Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God - what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:1-2 NRSV). This transforming and renewing process requires situation specific training and time! A lifetime!

I can remember reading one time about a conversation between a college student and a professor. The impatient student was requesting a shorter track to completing his required degree program. The seasoned educator responded, "It depends on what you want to make of yourself. When God makes a squash, He takes 40 to 50 days. However, when He grows an oak tree, God takes a hundred years!" How long and how many experiences will God's training program take? As long as He wants! Remember, "You respond how you're trained!"

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com


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