It was after midnight when we finally pulled to a stop at the end of the road. We had been watching the fire rip through the high country for over an hour as we drove next to the Kings River.
Our crew truck passed others looking up as the flames devoured acres of ponderosa pine and manzanita brush a dozen miles and several thousand feet up the steep canyon wall. Some of the on-lookers seemed afraid but all were impressed with the power of the blaze and the glow that lit up the night sky.
One huge difference set our thoughts of the fire apart from the on-lookers. They were wondering if this fire would interrupt their vacation plans camping in the Sequoia National Forest. We were calculating how difficult it was going to be to walk to the fire’s edge and how scared we would be when we arrived.
They were tourists; we were the Fulton Hotshots—one of a handful of elite firefighting crews from Southern California. The hotter the fire, the more dangerous the terrain, the more sure we were that we would join the other hotshot crews of the west on the fire line.
Bill, our grizzled superintendent, could see and feel our discouragement and fear in the way we unloaded the truck. There wasn’t the usual hustle and small talk. It was a long way up that mountain, and we were beat. This morning they told us we would get our first day off in three weeks. But then this thing started and they changed their minds. Instead we loaded up and rode for four hours.
To make matters worse, we knew that the helicopters wouldn’t be flying for another five or six hours. We would have to haul ourselves up the face of Kings Canyon with our food, our saws, our fire shelters, our tools, and our water.
And this was a ferocious timber fire burning through the crowns of hundred-foot trees. A fireman’s worst nightmare.
“Gentlemen,” Bill looked at us. “You know how we’re going to get up that mountain?”
Nobody said a word. (Danger does that to you. You just shut up and listen.)
“Here’s what we’re going to do.” Bill slung his Swedish brush hook over his shoulder, picked up his shovel and said, “We’re going to put one foot in front of the other. Follow me.” And he started up the trail.
And that’s what we did. We put one foot front of the other, climbed that mountain, and put that fire out.
Bill wasn’t asking us to take responsibility for the whole thing—the mountain, the fire, the logistics, the strategy. That was his problem. He was just asking us to take a few more steps and follow him.
Friend, I don’t know what your personal mountain is today or what wildfire threatens your life right now. What I do know is that if you’re like me, you’ve forgotten that the Lord Jesus isn’t asking you to solve the cosmic problems of life, to fix a bunch of other people, or take responsibility for His business.
He’s just asking you to take a few more steps, and follow Him.
You can do that.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27)