Diligence and persistance are synonymous with my 19 year-old grandson. Even as a little boy, he played ball while hurt because his dad had taught him to persist and persevere--even when you don't feel like it. The team was counting on him. Through his life, I've marveled at the perseverance he has shown in multiple ways, through many difficulties he's faced head-on. Again and again he followed through on commitments when more tempting situations and social events were ignored.
A year ago eighteen-year-old Ryan sat on the sofa in my living room and told me he simply was not interested in becoming an engineer, even though he had a scholarship to college. He knew he had the potential to be anything he wanted to be--he's just that bright. He didn't want to disappoint his teachers who'd recommended him for scholarships. But he felt God was leading him to be a fireman. He had joined the volunteer fire department in a little rural town near his home in the county before he even finished highschool. He immediately started getting certified and training. He loved it. When he got his equipment, he came to our house to show us all of it. Everything was used and old, but he spread it out and explained it all like it was Christmas in July. He was so proud.
When he happened to be the first responder to a horrific fatal accident a half-mile from his home, Ryan called in the accident; he didn't panic. He simply assessed the situation and ordered all the right things--including jaws-of-life for the nineteen-year-old girl trapped inside her vehicle. He told me he couldn't believe how calm he was in the midst of it all. He believed God was using him as he sat on the bank--just talking to a little boy who'd been in the accident while other responders attended to the boy's grandfather.
When Ryan went to his first structure fire, they were able to save the trailer. But Ryan wasn't satisfied with that. He felt he needed to hook up the family with churches in the area to minister to their needs. He even organized a few meals for them through his mom, and his youth minister at church. Ryan felt God could use him in the fire-department. "It could be a ministry," he told me. I remember telling him that he could do anything he wanted to do and no matter what he did, God could use him to minister to people. But if God was calling him to be a fireman, then He would make a way for him to do all he needed to do to become one.
Within a few months, he was in the top three applicants out of 60 who made it through the rigorous testing required for firefighting applicants in a nearby town. When folks told him he was in--not to worry about it, he hoped, but knew his age might be against him. When the position was given to another who had more certifications, he didn't give up; he dug in. He got more certifications. He went to every single training event he could. Before long he was training others.
A couple of weeks ago, when he went for his interview with Lawton's Fire Chief, Ryan knew his youth was still against him. However, he had taken every class and prepared in every way necessary to get hired. He scored well on all his tests and excelled in every training exercise. While he awaited the Chief's decision, Ryan attended another school--this one for smoke jumping. He figured if he didn't get the Lawton position, he'd find one somewhere else. Fortunately, he didn't have to, he got the call that he'd made it through. All that was left was his physical.
Last week he took his physical and though he passed it, he had to have an x-ray of his back where he broke his neck a few years ago while riding motocross. Remember me requesting prayers for him then? We wondered, would that accident be his undoing? We prayed as we waited to hear the results of the x-ray and the doctor's recommendations. Tonite we celebrated. We've held our breath and prayed for him. He has been so diligent...so persistent, so faithful and trusting. He is now cleared and officially part of our town's fire department.
I have no doubts Ryan will be one of the best firefighters our town has ever had. It will not surprise me to learn he saves another's life or that he boldly faces challenges others shy away from. He's just that kind of man. In a day when jobs are harder and harder to come by...when budgets are tight and firefighting positions are scarce, God has blessed my grandson. In our state 97% of all fires are fought by volunteer firemen. This is an incredible blessing for Ryan, and for us. I'm so grateful, I just had to share my joy with you all. selahV