Rejoice
circumstances. But he wasn’t living in Bible times. He was living in a city still reeling from the effects of the nation’s greatest tragedy ever, a nation stumbling along beneath the threat of future terrorist attacks and an uncertain economy.
    “I’m not sure I see it,” he’d told the group that night. “I can understand feeling God’s peace, believing in his plans . . . but rejoicing? Always? I don’t know.”
    No one had tried to convince him. Instead, the conversation merely shifted to examples from several of the men, ways they’d been able to rejoice in the middle of some pretty awful stuff.
    But here . . . with the voice of God still echoing in his room . . . Landon understood for the first time. The only way he could live in a constant state of rejoicing was if he kept his perspective.
    It wasn’t so different from fighting fires in New York City.
    Every now and then a call would come that looked impossible from the first response. But they’d been trained to take the call in stages. Assess the situation . . . strategize . . . and work the plan. Step-by-step, moment by moment. And in that way no call ever felt overwhelming.
    The same was true with living a life of joy.
    No matter what the situation, Landon could be certain of the bigger picture. God would be with him, giving him strength and peace. And in the end, God’s plans were good ones, plans that God himself was pulling together. All that and the promise of eternity.
    Landon uttered a single quiet laugh. “I get it, God. I really get it.”
    What wasn’t to be joyful about? Why not rejoice when God already had all the strange and sad details figured out?
    He was still marveling over the revelation when he arrived at the fire station that afternoon a few minutes before one. By then he wasn’t even a little worried about whatever the meeting held. God already knew the details. Landon would merely go along and give the best, most honest answers to whatever they wanted to know.
    “Hey, Blake, we’re in the meeting room.” Captain Dillon spotted him in the kitchen. The man poured himself a cup of coffee and stuck it in the microwave. He shot Landon a look over his shoulder. “Pretty big meeting, Blake. Maybe you better heat yourself a cup.”
    Landon hesitated. . . . “Rejoice always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
    “I’m good.” Landon smiled.
    Captain Dillon was right about the brass. Landon entered the meeting room and recognized only half of the six men in the room. Their names weren’t necessary; he could see from their uniforms that they were farther up the chain of command than anyone he’d ever met.
    “Sirs . . .” Landon nodded and stood at attention.
    Captain Dillon entered the room behind him, steaming coffee in his hand. “Have a seat, Blake. This isn’t a disciplinary action.”
    Joyful or not, relief spilled into Landon’s veins. His knees trembled as he removed his hat and took a seat at the table with the other men.
    Battalion chief Michael Parsons sat straight across from him. He cleared his throat and began the meeting. “We’re very happy with your work, Lieutenant Blake. You’ve been meticulous in following department protocol, and your attention to detail has saved both buildings and lives in New York City.”
    “Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.” Landon sat up straighter and glanced down at the front of his uniform. He expected to see his heart pulsing out past the buttons.
    “The purpose of this meeting is twofold.” The man glanced at a file on the table in front of him. When he looked up, his eyes shone and a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. “First, we’ve chosen to promote you to captain in January.”
    Landon could feel his heartbeat in his temples. His mouth was dry and his hearing dimmed. What had the battalion chief said? They wanted to promote him to captain? In January? That kind of a move was unheard of. A dozen men at his station alone would’ve been in line for the

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