Monday, September 21, 2009

God Works in Our Wake

As the rain and snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I have sent it. Is 55:10-11.

The first ten years were exciting: building the practice, being encouraged by my partners and the hospital, honing my skills in medical care. Much was new. And in that newness I was confident that I was where God wanted me and that He would do great things through me. I was called to this place. Now things are different. The joy seems to be lacking. The patients don’t seem as exciting. I don’t really see that God is doing much worthwhile through me. I still try to speak about Him to my patients. I still give them the best care possible. I look out there and see some of my buddies doing missions full time with hundreds of lost coming to know Him and I wonder whether I should change so that God could actually use me in my profession.

As doctors we tend to have the need to be useful, to see that our lives count. As Christian doctors we focus that need on God’s work through us. We tend to measure outcomes in our medical practices and then try that on our service to God. Sometimes when we do, we don’t measure up to the Godly goals that we define: why isn’t God doing more through me? Thank God when we have such concerns. When we don’t measure up, sometimes the problem is in our performance: we are in the wrong place or serving the wrong gods. But often the problem is in our measurements. We work for God but we use the world’s measuring sticks. We are like water skiers who want to prove themselves by jumping the wake or putting up a big spray with our slalom; we focus on the action right where we are. Certainly, some performance assessment is important, but more important to God, perhaps, is that which happens behind us. I believe that God does work in our skis while we are doing our tricks but that God probably works most effectively in our wake: the waves that go out behind us and ripple across the lake and bounce other boats and jostle swimmers near the shore. This wake that works behind us, that we never see looking forward, does far more than we can imagine from our vantage point on skis: the patient who 2 years later accepted the Lord, partly because of our word and kindness: the student who serves in missions, turned on by our compassionate service: the pastor who fires out a message from God, born during his illness under our care. If our lives are dedicated to Him, God works in our wake in ways we are never meant to know until we reach the Other Side. If we knew, we would likely fall off our skis applauding ourselves. Our job is to examine our lives and be as certain as possible that we are where God placed us, doing what God has asked us to do. It is His job to accomplish the work that comes from our willingness to serve Him. Sure, He makes some docs into great skiers for His glory, but for most of us, His greatest work is in our wake and we must trust Him to accomplish that in the way that He chooses.

Dear Father,
Let me listen to your voice and place myself where you want me to be. And when I do, let me be satisfied with anything you choose to accomplish through my faithful service, not looking at myself or at others, but only to your wisdom and your power for results.

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