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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Step(s) (11/29/12)

TITLE: Four Steps to Understanding
By Dannie Hawley
~1st Place


Twenty-six pages of deficiencies. If not corrected in the next two weeks, the State Licensing Board threatened to close our doors. The small hospital was the only medical help for sixty-nine miles… delivering babies, suturing ghastly wounds from equipment accidents, providing ready access to a cast for novice tree climbers, and stabilizing crash victims for transport elsewhere. The three thousand residents of the isolated, farming community entrusted the retention of their hospital’s license to me, a twenty-six-year-old university grad who knew nothing of hospital administration. The biggest task was to write all of the policy and procedure manuals, plus a job description for every position. What was I thinking last week, when I agreed to tackle this challenge?

Driving away from the Sunday morning worship service, I had one thing on my mind: Get to the hospital and work. Normally, I didn’t work on Sunday, because I knew the Lord had intended it for a day of rest. But, the inspectors were coming in a few days; God would understand.

Changing out of the fashionable polyester of that era, swapping my dress boots for everyday comfort, I grabbed my overloaded briefcase. Four steps into the short climb out of my lower-level, garden duplex apartment, a wave of nausea struck my empty stomach. Whipping around, I flew down those steps and back through the front door.

Once in the bathroom, however, my stomach felt fine. “Hmmm? Okay, guess I had too much coffee and not enough to soak it up this morning. I’ll get something to eat at the hospital.” I lived alone, so talking out loud came naturally.

Snatching up my briefcase again, I hurried back out the door. On the first step, I felt a slight queasiness. Once my foot hit step number four, I was certain I’d not make it to the bathroom. I dropped my briefcase, sprinting back down those few steps.

Even before I’d crossed the living room, the nausea lifted. “Okay, God, what’s the deal? You know I have to work this one Sunday, don’t You? All of these people are counting on me.”

“Do you?” While I had spoken softly, His reply came as a gentle awareness of His Presence in my spirit.

I sank to the country-style sofa, bright floral upholstery enveloped me. Looking up as though God stood right in front of me, I explained. “Look, God; no one knows better than You just how ill-equipped I am for this task. I must’ve been nuts to think I could turn things around for this hospital. But, the people are counting on me; I’m their only hope to keep their doors open. I just have to try; You understand, right?”

“I understand all things. Yes, the people are counting on you. And, you? Who are you counting on to help you do that job?”

Oh boy, He had me there. Without God’s help, I’d never succeed. Sliding to my knees, I bowed my head. “Father God, I’m sorry. Please forgive my foolish reliance on myself for this monumental task. I can do nothing without You and You ask so little of me. I won’t work today. Thank you for helping me understand the seriousness of the day of rest.”

After retrieving my briefcase from the fourth step, I took up my guitar and enjoyed a time of personal praise and worship with gusto. God cared about me enough to chastise me; I felt loved. I spent the afternoon visiting friends.

I worked hard for the few days before the inspection team arrived, stern-faced and loaded with all kinds of paperwork. I’d done my best, but would it be enough? The entire day, I answered questions and pulled files. Though none were visible, I felt their white gloves being swiped over every inch of my work.

At the close of the day, the inspectors handed me a sheet of paper with five points hand-written. Across the page was a stamp, Waived. They accepted those last five deficiencies, because the age of the facility didn’t allow for those corrections to be made. The hospital had passed the inspection.

When the official licensing letter arrived, I counted it a privilege to display the enclosed approval notice. The wall-mounted certificate proved a constant reminder of God’s ever-present involvement in my daily life.

Nearly four decades later, the lesson learned on those four steps remains fresh: God loves me and expects me to honor the day of Sabbath Rest. Got it.

Authors’ Note: This is a true story.

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Member Comments
Member Date
PamFord Davis 12/06/12
Such a mark of maturity to feel loved instead of deprived when feeling the sting of Fatherly discipline. His working through you in a job way outside your comfort zone was praise territory!
Wing His Words
C D Swanson 12/06/12
An excellent message conveyed in this beautifully written article. And, a timely reminder of God's grace and love. God bless~
Margaret Kearley 12/13/12
Many congratulations Dannie. Thank you for sharing this wonderful lesson of God's lovingkindness, even in discipline. Beautifully written with a profound lesson. Thank you so much.
Karen Pourbabaee 12/13/12
God's guidance always steps us in the right direction...congratulations on your first place win!
Carolyn Ancell12/13/12
Congratulations on a well-deserved EC win! I loved your true story. Still, it brought back memories of full-time work as worship director for two churches that required me to work every Sunday, and every holiday except for my summer vacation for 30 years. I loved it, and knew I was serving the Lord and his community as well as feeding my family. But oh how delicious are Sundays now in retirement! Sunday as a day of rest in the Lord is now not only a commandment, but a blessed gift. I do still make an exception if I am called into the local hospice on a Sunday as a chaplain to play my harp for a dying patient and his/her family. But that too is a blessing and a gift, and a time for prayer.
Congratulations again on an EC recognition of your beautiful writing.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 12/13/12
WOW!!! First overall!! You are amazing my friend! Happy Dance!!
Noel Mitaxa 12/13/12
Congratulations Danny for your win. This flows with the integrity that marks personal experience, which then serves to strengthen the authority of the teaching you draw from it.
EC 1st place so well deserved.
C D Swanson 12/13/12
Congratulations Dannie!!!! Yeah!!!!!! I'm so happy for you. Great job...God bless~
Bea Edwards 12/15/12
Thank you for this wonderful reminder to rest. It comes at a perfect time-as all things from His hands do. In other words I believe God is using your delightful true story to convey one of His Truths to me and anyone reading your entry. Especially this time of year when busyness unfortunately reigns. Congratulations!
Nancy Dobbins12/16/12
Nancy Dobbins12/16/12
I was captivated by your article! You built suspense in your first paragraph.

Your choice of words like "swapping," "whipping," "stern-faced," and "gusto" added spice and kept me reading.

I especially liked your 2-word conclusion: "Got it."

Thanks for sharing your inspirational story.
Olawale Ogunsola12/18/12
A carefully crafted content! Congratulations!
Catherine Craig 02/10/13
Have so been tempted to do the same. It's "funny" how the things we intend to accomplish turn into setbacks instead. God knows we need our rest. Congrats!