The Standard Journal
Don’t be afraid to climb the ladders in your life
God is always moving in our lives. It happens more often when we let Him. We all find ourselves in situations we never dreamed we would be in. God knew every situation we would endure before we were born. And He knew how we would handle it. This amazes me to this day.
In the early 2000s, Retired Sheriff Roger Garrison and Retired Chief Deputy Mike Malone assigned me to the transition team overseeing the construction of the new jail. It was a huge honor to be selected to this position. It was also a lot of work. We watched the jail develop from nothing but a set of plans to the state-of-the-art facility it is today.
Everyone has fears. Some may not admit it. But we all have them. One of mine is the fear of heights. I basically must be medicated to get on an airplane. Statistics will show flying is safer than driving. I still maintain we have a better chance of surviving a fender bender in a car than we do on a plane. While I have somewhat overcome this fear, it is still there. I prefer having both my feet on the ground.
When we were building the jail, construction had reached a point where the shell was basically in place. From the ground floor where 9-1-1 is to the 1st floor of where the administrative offices are is several feet. It was about ten to twelve feet. While walking around the site, Chief Malone said something about climbing the ladder to the administrative area. Suddenly, the ten to twelve feet looked like twenty to thirty feet in my mind.
Chief Malone headed up the ladder and told me to follow him. I suggested we walk around the building. If you know anything about rank, my opinion didn’t matter in this situation. Despite my feeble protest, he insisted I climb up after him. I’m so afraid of heights, resigning or retiring seemed like viable options. Of course, I didn’t say that at the time. My protest failed and I didn’t want to let him down. So, with sweaty palms, I made the climb. If I didn’t admit this incident to you, you’d never know it. Mike isn’t the kind of guy to tells things which might embarrass someone. He’s the definition of class.
This week the Sheriff’s office lost one of its retirees, Jim Harvey. Jim served as the Public Information Officer for many years. He was the perfect example of how an officer should dress and groom themselves. His uniform was always perfect. There was never a hair out of place. After his retirement, he moved to Florida. It was always his dream to do so. He did it. Not everyone can say this about their dreams.
Jim has one daughter, Ashley Booth. Since I will be speaking at her dad’s funeral, she and I had a long discussion one day this week. She told me about her dad and the love she had for him. The more sensitive things we discussed will stay between she and I. However, she did tell me she would like someone from her dad’s sheriff office days to speak. When I ask her who, she told me to pick whoever I felt was the right one for the job.
My mind and heart immediately thought of Mike Malone. Mike is a brother in Christ. I called him and asked if he would be available for Jim’s service. He told me he certainly would. It was then I asked him to speak at the service. He was extremely quiet for a few seconds. He then told me he had never spoken at a funeral before. After a little more back and forth, he told me he would probably do it but would confirm with me the next day. I finished by telling him it was his decision. But I believed it was right.
Mike didn’t wait until the next day to call me. He called me later that same evening. He wanted to confirm as he couldn’t get our conversation off his mind. The conversation made it clear he was already preparing for what needed to be said. After some further conversation, I said, “Mike, do you remember making me climb that ladder twenty years ago?” He said he did. I said, “Well, I guess this is your ladder. Except it’s not me making you do it.” We both laughed.
Whatever the ladder in your life, don’t be afraid to climb it. There may just be a blessing waiting for you at the top.