There was a time, years ago, when I was pretty strong in God’s covering of me. Attended a Baptist church, with a Black pastor that I just loved, dearly. We were a very multi-cultural, multi ethnic church.
Every color known to man, was in that church, and it was a good place to be. I was proud of all of it. I figured it looked more like Heaven would, with all these different lives blended together.
I worked as a critical care nurse…and a very, very good one. I’ve saved, or been involved with saving perhaps several hundred lives, as an RN, and many more as a Paramedic.
Not ‘saved’ in the spirit…. literally saved them from their heart stopping, forever.
As good as that felt, it’s just numbers, that add to a list of things I did. Maybe a handful of those lives I saved, I remember.
One stood out.
Once, when I was working in an ICU that I felt very ‘in tune’ with, and during a time when my spiritual side was stronger than now, I was caring for a man who had received open heart surgery. His chest was going to carry the scar for the rest of his life, a scar that marked his ‘second chance’ at life.
So, he endured pain, and difficult steps, to increase his time ‘here’…. why? Isn’t the world, full of itself…why spend any more time here than necessary?
I did my job around him. All the little tasks that go with providing for his body, things he could not yet do for himself, in his post-surgical state.
I had lots of thoughts about the job I was doing, and probably seemed somewhat ‘detached’, but yet something about me was ‘engaging’…. apparently.
The man had been observing me, doing my job…cleaning this, emptying that, administering meds for pain, titrating life-saving IV medications, endless charting, and other ‘needs’ that accompany a cardiopulmonary bypass surgery, to repair a living, beating heart.
I could tell he was watching…. but I’d been ‘watched’ before. It’s like standing at the plate, waiting for a pitch…. you know the crowd is watching…but you must focus on the pitch…. not the crowd.
So… I kept focusing on the ‘pitch’…or my job, as it were.
Eventually he asked me a question. He said… “You know…. I’ve been watching you. Watching how you do your work. How do you work so diligently, and carefully, with such a smile on your whole person?”
He said my ‘body’ smiled. My ‘whole person.’ Hadn’t heard that before.
I had a small hesitation, as sometimes being completely truthful to a patient, can be more honesty than some patients need, or can stand, while recovering from major surgery.
Then I told him in words I don’t recall the details of…. that I loved God; that he gave me the ability, knowledge and wisdom, to do this job, and insure my patients get back to their lives.
Not being ‘satisfied’ in that, would sully the gifts God had given me, the ability…the knowledge…and the wisdom…to put people back in their lives where they can continue to do whatever God has in store for THEM.”
He was silent, but I knew he was thinking…a lot.
As my shift grew close to its end (12-hour nights), the sun was beginning to fill our ICU from the eastern windows of our unit…
I was dotting the ‘T’s and crossing the ‘I’s to my charting (comic relief err intended) when the man spoke. He revealed why I was so fascinating to him….and what it had done for him.
He asked again, how I managed such incredible responsibility, with such integrity.
I replied…”Because God would not have it any other way…He put me here…He gave me these skills, and abilities…to do otherwise, would be…well…thankless, wouldn’t it… I’m a Christian, sir…
I do what I do, at the pleasure of God… The paycheck is “man’s” thank you.”
He had a rather sheepish look on his face. Perhaps somewhat embarrassed, in hind sight.
He then responded know that, now. Do you know what I do?” I answered “no.”
He said, “I’m a Baptist minister, son.
And in all my years, I’ve not seen anyone do their job, with more of Christ in their work, than you.
I was doubting, and flailing about in my spirit, and was feeling sorry for myself. Feeling completely inadequate to God, and the recovery ahead.
Thinking perhaps I’d made the wrong decision. And watching you, do what you do, with such precision and attention to detail, yet with a warmth around you that defies all the ‘sterility’ around me,
…gave my spirit a lift, just watching you do what you do, sometimes. My faith was weakening, and my conviction to God was faltering
….and then, watching you, …give so much to keep me alive, comfortable, and recovering…it boosted my spirit, restored a flagging faith…
…and to know you are a Christian, doing God’s work, keeping other people alive….has encouraged my spirit, invigorated my heart and soul, and given me a reinforced faith in Him.”
I knew the man’s name, his family by sight, his medical history…. but in a rare instance, I didn’t know what this man did for a ‘living’.
I usually knew exactly what they did, so I could include that, in encouraging words, and remind them of the things they need to get back to doing.
For some reason, not this time.
I think God planned that. Had I known this history of the man, I might have been distracted from my work. “Oh…another Christian, a pastor no less…who’s been hit by a truck known as ‘heart surgery’…I need to ‘minister’ to him”
…And what would that have done?
Spoiled God’s moment, in this man’s spirit. God ministered to him, through my silent diligence, and attention to the detail of keeping a recovering heart, body and soul, alive.
Actions…speak louder than words.
All the ‘proselytizing’ or evangelizing, or saying the ‘right thing,’ or finding the perfect comfort…
…would not have done what going about my business, in a spirit that encouraged God’s hand in my work, and in this pastor’s life, did.
Do your work, in the spirit of Him…in the company and counsel of the Holy Spirit…and He will do His work through you.
Just be careful not to try to ‘take credit’ for it…. don’t spoil God’s moment.
G.P. Class 65