Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Always a Neighbor

I hadn't planned on sharing this, but it fits with some things I want to say about missional Christianity...

Always a Neighbor
Yesterday, I went to the clinic for an upper respiratory infection. I couldn’t see my regular doctor, who was booked up, so they set me up with another. I have met this other doc before—he is a kind, gentle man with a positive spirit, enhanced by a comforting lilting Irish accent.

He checked me over and made his diagnosis, giving me a prescription and counsel to rest and so on. As we were talking, he discovered that I worked for hospice. Turns out his wife is a hospice patient; end-stage ovarian cancer. Also turns out that I have met his wife, a lovely lady who has spent her life visiting the sick and caring for the unfortunate; one of those rare people that just breathes encouragement, comfort, and affirmation into every situation she enters.

It was obvious that the doctor needed to talk. So, we extended my stay in the examination room quite a bit past the usual perfunctory exam and wrap-up. After he told how his wife was doing, I asked about him. “Well,” he said, “she’s handling it a lot better than I am. She seems to have accepted things, and I’ve told her that’s all well and good, but it doesn’t mean I’m not going to be pissed off.” That was a surprisingly revealing, personal comment for a doctor to make to a patient, and I was honored that he felt comfortable enough to share it with me.

After talking for a while more, we parted and I asked him to give his dear wife my greeting, and I wished him blessings from God. He indicated that it had been good to talk. Little had I expected that a trip to the doctor for my needs would turn into an opportunity to minister to the doctor for his needs.

It reminded me that what I do is not just a job. All around me people are going through situations no one imagines or understands. God may lead me, at any time, to be available to help someone. In that sense, I am never off the clock. It is always time to listen to and love your neighbor.

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