Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Swimming Upstream

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matt 6:6)

This past August I was vacationing in Bon Aire, a great place for scuba divers. One day for exercise I decided to swim in the ocean. I cruised through the crystal clear water with the fish and coral passing swiftly beneath me on the ocean floor. And then I turned around to swim back home. The same incredible ocean current that had swept me along in one direction prevented my movement in the other. I stroked with all my might and the ocean floor did not move. If it were not for the ropes of the anchored boats, I would have worn out quickly and been swept out in to the deep blue. I was totally surprised by the power of the ocean’s current.
A Christian doctor

In the 16th century, Machiavelli wrote a handbook for power. The Prince describes his conclusions after decades of learning how to get and keep power. Power was everything. Among his principles were:

A leader must be cunning, not wise.
A leader must be stingy and strategic in his/her giving.
A leader must be cruel.
A leader must lie.

Within all of us, even as Christians, there exists the subtle desire to be in control and have power over our lives and circumstances. Machiavelli was no fool. His principles work in this broken world. Therefore, integrity, sacrificial service and honesty are fading from our culture, even among Christians. Christ was a failure in Machiavelli’s eyes.

Sometimes, as Christian doctors, our default mode as humans is to flow with the culture and incorporate Machiavellian principles into our lives: the relationship lie, the giving for personal benefit, the one-upmanship that makes us come out on top by lowering our colleagues, even as Christians.

It takes energy to swim upstream against our culture. It takes power beyond ourselves. It takes a commitment to a God who is unseen.

Dear Father,
Help me see clearly that You are present and that success in this world is not always the same as success in Your plan---and that Your plan is only direction that really matters. Amen

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