Open Door Policy

As a family physician doing primary care, some days are a real joy. Patients are those that I have seen before, they have taken their medications like they are supposed to, and what I did actually helped. Throw in a couple of baby visits and I go home with a smile on my face.

Then there are those days where all the stars align, in a bad way. The patients come in with their list of complaints and nothing that I have tried has had any effect at all. Some are demanding, others are just as frustrated because we can’t figure out what is going on. By the end of those clinic days I can’t even blog about what I’m thinking in my head.

I read this passage recently: ‘That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases.” Mark 1:32-34

It never ceases to amaze me to read about how Jesus received those who came to him for help. And those going to him weren’t well-to-do nice people, but the prostitutes, demon-possessed, lepers, and tax collectors. It should serve as a warning that those who recognized the truth about Jesus were not the religious elite whose lives appeared put together. No, it was the outcasts and those shunned by society who saw the hope of Christ, and subsequently experienced His compassion and love.

Sometimes it is hard to love, especially if you are expected to meet needs over and over again. And over and over again, I find myself falling short of God’s command to love as Christ loved us. But, I forget that Jesus also needed to spent time alone with His Father. After that night of healing the entire town, the very next verse in Mark says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

I keep asking God to help me grow in my love for others, to love like Jesus loves. Maybe God’s been telling me, “Come, experience my love first, again and again.”

How have you experienced God’s love recently?

(thanks Rich for the post idea!)

Broken Cisterns

I have met some of the most compassionate and “good” people I know in medical school and residency, and most of them were not believers. Their dedication to serving those in need often shamed any such desire in my heart. It has been such an inspiration and honor meeting these physicians and physicians-in-training. But what do generally good people say when confronted with their need for a savior? “Why? I’m a good person.”

We have to be careful, even as believers, because as people who have hearts to do good, we can mistake doing good for being good. It is easy to profess a trust in Christ for the forgiveness of sins, but really believe that there’s not all that much that needs forgiving. Sure I’m not perfect, but I’m not that bad, right? I’m certainly better than those “real” sinners like murderers and child molesters, and no worse than those sitting around me at church. We can be so busy comparing ourselves to ourselves that we forget the ultimate standard: God’s perfect holiness.

God is so holy even one sin is enough to condemn us to hell. But none of us have committed just one sin, have we? Isaiah 64:6 reminds us that even our best behavior is like filthy rags to God. At our core we have all fallen short of God’s perfect standards, and no amount of good deeds or nice intentions can deal with our sin that separates us from God.

We need to remember our need for the blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of my sins. Otherwise, our faith is no faith at all, because we are simply trusting in our goodness to get us into heaven. Throughout the Old Testament, the Israelites continually turned away from God and trusted in man-made idols. Jeremiah 2:13 God brings his accusations against the nation: “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”

God’s people rejected the source of life and turned to worthless idols instead. While most of us are not bowing down to little statues, many have made an idol of ourselves, trusting in our own abilities to save. Even Christians, in a way, hold the living water of the Spirit in broken cisterns when we try to live life apart from God, on our own strength. The cross alone rescues us from our sins. The cross alone opens the way to the Spirit. Let’s trade in our broken cisterns for the cross, depending on Christ not just for salvation, but to live day-to-day until God calls us home, or Christ returns.

Unfailing Spring

Doing God’s work is hard, especially if it involves loving people. As Christian medical providers, we are called to serve with the love of Christ, patient after patient, day in and day out. We won’t last long if we are not receiving from the source of love. Unfortunately, people in medicine are great at taking care of everyone but themselves.

We have a great promise from God, that believers who truly live out their faith through caring for those in need will be renewed by God to continue loving. Isaiah 58:11 says that those who practice true religious acts by pouring out their lives in service for others “will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” God will continue to fill up the believer in order to continue God’s work.

This of course is realized in its entirety with the giving of the Holy Spirit, as Jesus says in John 7:37-39: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” We have the source of love living within us, empowering us to continue God’s work of love.

But the busyness of life has done much to quench the Spirit’s work in our hearts. Many well-intentioned Christians desiring to serve God with their gifts end up living lives of duty, spiritually dry and wondering where the living water is at. We need to tend to the Spirit’s presence in our lives if we hope to love as Christ did and do God’s kingdom work.

How is your relationship with the Lord? Is your serving out of your own strength or in dependence on the Holy Spirit? What can you do to make room for God and make the living waters a reality in your life?