Ladder No. 3
Ladder No. 3

Aftermath | Lessons Learned

On September 11, 2001, I was working at my job in Louisville, Kentucky.  A friend and coworker walked into my cubicle and said, “Turn on CNN, they just flew a plane into the World Trade Center.”

I remember thinking in my head to her comment, “What? This has to be a mistake?”

“Like a little plane?” I asked.

I can still see her nodding toward my duel monitors and as I turned the images of terrorism filled the screens. The United States was under attack. We began to watch as a second plane, then a third, and finally a fourth were reported missing. Banks and government offices began shutting down like dominoes, including ours.

After what seemed like hours, I remember turning and realized that more than a dozen coworkers were lined up behind us watching as we watched, and sobbing as we sobbed.

At 10:05 AM, the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed into the streets below taking uncountable souls with it. Our lives would never be the same.

Fast-forward 16 years to today and I and the world has dramatically changed. In 2007, I left the corporate life in part to cofound the ministry that would become Clean Socks Hope. It was to honor my dad, but mostly to heal my soul.

Over our 10-year vision quest, dozens of people have offered me advice of what they think is the best for me. I had to learn that one myself charging into the homeless camps of Louisville and southern Indiana shouting “Get a job, get a life, here’s some socks, no more strife!”

Thankfully, by God’s hand of protection, I didn’t walk out with a knife in my skull. It’s an absolute miracle I’m alive.

But that’s the rub isn’t it? We think we know what’s best for everybody! I am so thankful that God has walked beside us everyday of our ministry. The failures are at times epic, but in that the victories are twice as sweet. It has kept us from becoming cavalier and entitled and driven us closer to the resurrected Christ.

Part of that journey is discipleship. Being one (a disciple) and sharing wisdom. I have for years fought that, but God tends to show his way—clearly.

I have the honor of serving with a bunch of young guns down at 8th Street. Most are no older that my own children and walk with that same swagger. The same swagger I walked with all those years ago.

But, in all honesty they haven’t seen true hate because you’re a certain this, or real injustice because you’re a certain that, or a world gone mad by sanctioned infanticide or what it does to a country that legalizes it. As for 9/11, they were all so young and it’s up to us to share what we know in the best of times and especially in its most vile.

So how do we disciple then? How do we mentor? I think we have to consistently ask questions like, “Who are we to question the true spirit of ones’ journey with Jesus?” and “What lessons is God providing us in the failures and in the victories for that person and for us?”

Biblically, our brother Job sure had a lot of yammering friends offering advice and even a wife that demanded, “Just curse God and die!” Shelly and I have had a few dust-ups along the way, but she’s never wished me to die!

I feel like for some reason that our kids have fallen prey to this prosperity gospel vibe much like we did in the eighties. That the gospel comes without the hard work of carrying our cross daily and in essence diminishing the work done by Christ and the victory found at Calvary.

I wish sometimes that in our journey to 2017, the road had been a little easier along the way, but in it God gave me hope and lessons learned for a lifetime. Most of all, he gave me the courage to stand-alone because his will trumped others and my own.

In essence, failure began healing my heart and restoring my soul, and that’s the reason I began this journey in the first place.

I hope we get that and understand, there’s a storm coming and it’s God sized and Kingdom bound. Job 1:18-19

So, from one brother to another, ask my friend Dave how living a life for Christ is? I’ll bet he never uses the word “easy.”

Finance guru Dave Ramsey has a saying, “Don’t take advice from broke people.” Maybe ours should be, “Don’t take advice from broken people.”


Post Script: I’d like to take this moment to thank all first responders past and present for your willingness to serve. May God bless you and your families with his hand of protection, always.