Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Opening Doors

Here I am!
I stand at the door and knock. Rev 3:20

This was his first visit and he seemed a bit skittish. After making him more comfortable, I began to obtain the information I needed to manage his problem: present symptoms….past medical history… allergies… social history.

“Are you married?”
“What kind of work do you do?”
“I’m a teacher.”
“Do you use cigarettes?”
“Quit three years ago.”
“Do you have a religious faith that you follow?”
“Not really. My wife does; she’s a Buddhist. I was raised Jewish….I do believe that there’s a God.”

“I recommend that you call on Him to help you while you are going through this problem.”

How do we as Christian doctors get from, “How’s your back molar doing?”, or “Tell me about your belly pain”, to “Do you know Jesus?” Almost always the correct answer is “one step at a time”.

Patients come to us for a medical or dental problem and expect us to focus on that important issue. For most patients there is a wide intellectual and emotional gap between their concern for their physical problem and their concern over their spiritual health. Most doctors struggle in the same way, “I’m here to fix the need they bring to me”.

It’s like there’s a door between the spiritual lives of doctors and the spiritual lives of their patients, with a knob on either side. The patient won’t turn his knob because he thinks the doctor is not interested. And the doctor won’t turn hers because she is sure that the patient is not interested. Attempting to turn the knob sets off an alarm, screaming “Rejection!” This may not be an ideal model for our Christian witness but for many of us it is reality.

Many doctors have discovered that the most natural way to open the door to a discussion of their patients’ spiritual health is through the spiritual history.

Not only is a spiritual history necessary in order for us to understand our patient holistically, taking this history actually turns the door knob and allows our patients to open up spiritually to whatever God is doing in their lives. And then, we can, guided by God’s spirit, follow with simple faith flags, or even the Gospel story, allowing God in His wisdom to use our encounter to draw his lost child closer to him.

Dear Father,
Teach me to be ready with Your word. Speak through me with every patient I encounter so that You may draw them closer to You.

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