To Love & To Lead: Staff Discussions


Posted on Sep 6, 2017 by Max Garrett, Walk Minister


    For those of you who do not know me, I am a Fireman for the City of Fort Smith and was on duty the day of the attacks on the World Trade Center/ Pentagon.   All of us at the station sat glued to the TV, watching the events unfold live, knowing our fellow brothers and sisters in New York were risking it ALL.

When the towers fell the reporters rushed back in to be “the first to report” on what was taking place.  All I remember about those reports were the chirpings in the background that sounded like crickets.  You see the reporters did not know what those sounds were, but any firefighter knows. That sound means there are Firemen down, LOTS of Firemen down. 

That sound traumatized me for years after that event was long over and done.  I could not see any pictures of the towers, either before or after the attacks took place.  I could not listen to any reporting on the subject or even hear the sounds that are so directly attached to this event.  I believe I know what PTSD really feels like, as that is the closest thing I can relate to the emotions and feelings that overwhelmed me each and every time I was confronted with 911.

What I did not know is that I had a deep emotional scar from my past rising up to overcome me.  I was told multiple times in my life, by my father, that I was not wanted or that I was a mistake of nature.  Over the years I learned to “deal” with this issue and truly believed I had overcome the rejection.  I feel no ill will to my father, he had his own demons he was dealing with at the time. 

Fast forward to 2013, my wife was pushing me to take her to the President Bush Library on the SMU campus in Dallas.  I resisted as long as I could, you see she did not know of my 911 fear issue, but she over-ruled me and off we went to Dallas.  I was sweating bullets as we ate lunch in the Restaurant on the campus and then went into the Library.  Things were going very well so far—no 911 stuff yet.  We rounded a corner and there it was, I could hear it in the distance and I began to break down sobbing uncontrollably.

I had told my wife, Leanna, my troubles by now, she asked me if I wanted to just turn around and leave.  In true bulldog personality I told her NO, I had to overcome this now or it will follow me the rest of my life.  I went by myself to the 911 display but could not make myself go in.  As it turns out there was a screen behind the exhibit and I used it to quickly walk past.  I got to the other side and there was the exit, “I could not leave without beating this”, I told myself.  So I leaned up against the screen and just listened to the news reports and all the sounds that were so connected to that day. 

There I was, a man of my size, sobbing uncontrolled.  Workers at the library would come up to me to render assistance but I told them I was “OK”, yea right.  I was not able to beat these overwhelming emotions living inside me because I did not know why or who they were from.  We returned home and in just a few weeks the church was hosting the Healing School with Rev. Bobby Cabot.  My wife and I had signed up for this strictly because “the church needed more numbers” or so we thought, God had another plan for me.

As the Healing School went on it became very apparent to all those at our table and to the instructor Rev. Cabot that I was dealing with a very personal, severe issue.  Rev. Cabot came up to me at a break and asked if I would let her do a demonstration for the class on taking someone to their safe place and then on to healing.  Out of character I quickly accepted the offer, much to the surprise of my wife. 

Up on the stage, in front of the class, of which I did not know many, I sat and went through the instruction Rev. Cabot gave me.  I went to a place in my youth that was always my safe place to think over the issues I was dealing with, and then on to where God was leading me.  I could almost hear my voice SCREAMING NOOOO inside my head, as God took me back to Wichita, KS and the living room where my father had first disowned me and told me he wished I had never been born.  Rev. Cabot asked me to describe what I was seeing and then to look around the room because Jesus is there somewhere, He always is.

I saw Him, at last, standing in the corner with His arms out stretched to me wanting me to walk over to Him.   As I walked over to Jesus, in my mind, and He wrapped His arms around me I felt warmth flowing all over my body, and love like I have never known.  In that moment God repaired a broken heart that felt abandoned for so long.  You see my 911 issue was not my fellow brothers and sisters dying but rather that there was no one to rush in to save them, they were abandoned.

Now I am truly FREE by the power of God and what Jesus did for me.  God has plans for our lives if we will just allow Him to direct us and guide us.  If you have issues in your life that seem out of place or that you know are not as they should be, give them to God for only He can repair the damage of your past. Set your captive heart free. God loves you like no one else and will be more real to you than you can ever imagine.  There is HOPE, only in God and Jesus Christ.

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