Shortly before my school days ended, it was customary for leavers to see a ‘Careers Officer,’ to point them in the direction of suitable employment with regard to personal aptitude.
Office work of any description was top of my ‘hate list.’ The prospect of being confined within four walls for eight hours, thumping away on a typewriter, freaked me beyond measure. In the event I was brow beaten into doing precisely that, owing to my complete lack of interest or ability in any other department!
This, I believe set the standard for my notorious and embarrassing, scatter-brained and unrealistic views on life. If I couldn’t be an air-hostess or ocean liner stewardess, then nothing else was worth discussing.
In the event, I met a boy even more immature than myself, and we married. End of! Or at least end of my daydreams.
The reality of life hit home when during a routine hospital outpatient appointment, my father suffered a cardiac arrest. Clueless and helpless I watched in awe as a team of Health Care Professionals ‘shocked’ him back to life. At the flick of a switch my philosophy on life had turned tail.
Not only did I declare this dramatic, life-saving incident worthy of my questionable attention span; I pondered deeply on the transient nature of life itself; here today, gone tomorrow; or as I’d witnessed – here one minute and gone the next!
What was it all about? I began to seek God with a vengeance and simultaneously enrolled in Nurse Training School.
Family circumstances and commitments dictated my professional life. Once qualified, by necessity I worked regular night shifts within the Community Nursing Team. And there I met Tommy.
Tommy was not long for this world. A complicated birth resulted in multiple and complex physical needs. He was also severely learning disabled. The parents, still in their teens were an exemplary example of selflessness. Tommy was the sole focus of their lives and it was humbling to be trusted by them with such a precious child.
Before mom collapsed exhausted into bed at night, we would talk. She had a reassuring aura about her; a dignified acceptance of the hand life had dealt them. I was a ‘baby Christian,’ clumsily trying to ‘get her saved’ with learned words; parroting trite cliché and lifeless verbiage; my own words … not God’s words.
And how do you tell two young parents about God’s love and healing power when their young son is slowly dying?
I felt incompetent! My role as a nurse dictated that I should be in command of the situation; be there for the family with the necessary skills, both medical and counselling, to get them through.
I seriously doubted the wisdom of my career choice!
I doubted God too. I wanted to be employed in His service but I was so bad at it.
I’m not sure just when or how it occurred to me, but it was a welcome revelation to my unsuspecting thought processes. God made it plain to me that I’d trained as a Health Care Professional to tend sick bodies and maladjusted minds. I use my judgement to administer treatment options and refer to my seniors for advice and clarification.
But when it comes to spiritual matters, I stop being the bossy nurse who knows what’s good for her patient. Judging people’s spiritual status is NOT in my job description, and furthermore I have no role to play in the decision making process on how best to reach them. No!
My role in God’s labour of love is to pray always, listen intently …
And finally, abandon all effort, to allow HIM to work THROUGH me!
And for the record – Tommy’s mom wrote to me after his death. The lines that encouraged me most were these:
“Tommy knew that you would be on duty that night. He had no fight left in him and heard Jesus calling him home. He waited for you and it was right that it was you. Each night when we went to bed, I knew you’d be holding his hand and praying, not just for him but for us too. You’ll never know how much comfort and hope you gave me during our little chats. Now, our little Tommy is safe in Jesus’ arms and I know we’re only apart for a while. God knows what’s best. I will never doubt Him again!”
God certainly does know what’s best. I would have made a shoddy ship stewardess!
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