Written and Shared by: Chaplain Chris Belfield
I thought that Labor Day was a holiday where we can rest from our labors and take a day to relax. When I was growing up, it was also a day in which parents took some absolute delight in realizing that school started the next day. Neither of those thoughts was prevalent this Labor Day as Cathy and I were sweating to the oldies – and I don't mean with Richard Simmons. We were busy in the yard catching up on long put-off projects that needed to be done before it becomes too cold to work outside. Where did the summer go? It seems that yesterday that it was Memorial Day weekend, as we watched the seemingly endless parade of vehicles heading up the shore. Now, here we were watching the mass exodus heading down the same roadway towards distant points south of the Lake County area. The work seemed bearable as we listened to tunes from the 80s on a radio station from Duluth. Amazing how music can bring back memories of past experiences. It was just as the yard work was the hardest and the tunes seemed to be helping the most that another sound interjected itself.
The sound started out as a faint, barely discernible noise barely audible above the din of the seemingly non-stop traffic flow. It fluctuated due to the unique sound anomalies along the shoreline and the two tunnels between town and our house. And then recognition of the sound became crystal clear – a siren. There was an emergency somewhere, and an emergency vehicle was responding. Now, this occurs at least weekly and is taken in stride. However, this was not a normal response. Within only 10 minutes, another
six emergency vehicles had passed by with sirens and lights, signaling their mission's urgency. These included vehicles from the sheriff, search and rescue, fire departments, ambulances, and the highway patrol. As each vehicle passed, I said a separate prayer for the responder and the situation. Two thoughts were prevalent during this time. First, these were not vehicles responding, but individuals who were literally putting others' needs above their own safety. This was an "all hands-on-deck" team effort so that others might live. The second thought was not as charitable. As the emergency vehicles passed in front of our house on Highway 61, very few vehicles heading southbound pulled over to allow the responders full
access to the highway. I have been on emergency responses myself as a military police commander and as an emergency services chaplain for a metro county. I know that the responders are simultaneously having to concentrate on traffic that will not move over for them and think about responses once at the scene of the event.
Cathy understands and has great empathy for all first responders as she has been there first-hand. She had the privilege to serve as a police officer for the Cottage Grove Police Department and then as a paramedic RN for Northfield. I listen to some of the stories she tells and can readily understand the frustrations that are encountered. However, more often than not, these frustrations are off-set by the rich satisfaction of having assisted those most in need of emergency services. Think back to those times when lives have been saved by those willing to go where most would fear to go. This September 11th, remember all those who responded to the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a barren field in rural Pennsylvania. Now for a sobering thought – what if we don't have enough men and women volunteer to be trained as first responders in the future? Who will we call when we desperately need help? Please take the time to sincerely thank these for their service. Unless we have been in their shoes, we can hardly imagine what they have experienced. BTW – say a prayer of remembrance for all responders this Friday. You'll feel good, and they will be blessed.
Now for some really great and encouraging news. It is a fact that we all have an emergency responder that is only a prayer away. There are so many things during our lives that are true emergencies. They may not be the kind that results in lights and sirens, but they are our emergencies nonetheless. God is with us 24/7 and always responds. All that is required is faith and a willingness to ask for help.
Our encouragement verse for this week is:
Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
“ Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
May you be blessed by God’s word.