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Patience for a Patient ©

Tuesday morning at about 9:15 a.m.  I walked in the doors of Texas Health Resources Harris Hospital Southwest.  As I walked up to the information desk where I was to report in for my knee replacement surgery, an elderly woman using a cane and wearing a back brace was in front of me.  About the same time I arrived to begin the line a younger man (40ish) approached from the side. We stood there as she fumbled in her purse and pulled out a phone.  She asked for the room-number of a patient and after some careful search on the computer, the desk volunteer graciously notified her that there was no one registered at Harris SW Hospital under that name.  Graciously the volunteer offered to help expand the search.  As we waited, the lady proceeded to call a family member to see if she had the right hospital.  I don’t know how you as a reader would handle a situation like this.  I must confess that it is difficult for me not to demonstrate a lack of patience when someone stands in line and deals with a phone call all the while obviously holding up the line.  For that matter, even in the best of circumstances, patience is not one of my spiritual attributes.  Unfortunately or rather very fortunately, I knew the desk volunteer.  Bob Sherman, the volunteer on the information desk, is a member at Arborlawn United Methodist Church.  If Bob was exhibiting a grace filled example of patience to one of the elder saints of the Lord, the least I could do was keep my mouth shut. By the grace of God and the witness of a good Methodist layman, I did just that.  I kept my mouth shut.  The story doesn’t quite end there.  A little while later changed into a hospital gown and waiting in the pre-op room, Bob slipped in and asked if he could phone church so that folks on the Arborlawn prayer team could be lifting me up in prayer for a successful knee replacement surgery. I shared my appreciation with Bob a little while later but those brief interactions have lingered in my mind.  The Apostle Paul’s listing of the fruits of the Spirit linger in my mind.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the self with its passions and its desires. If we live by the Spirit, let’s follow the Spirit” (Galatians 522-25). Just four days earlier, we had returned from a spiritual pilgrimage following much of the Apostle Paul’s third missionary journey.  The theologian in me cannot help but notice the connection between the witness of those earliest persecuted Christians and a simple act of kindness and care shown at a volunteer’s desk.  In recent blogs I have highlighted how the earliest Christians could live with grace, joy and love in horrific conditions.  The earliest Christians did not begin by joining a political party.  They didn’t clamor for their rights.  Their witness to the risen Savior sprung out the way they lived towards others.  They took the admonitions of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount; the teaching from his parables; and the way he interacted with all people – even lepers, as an example of how they were to live in relationships with others … event their enemies.  They were literally grace-filled.  They lived by the Spirit and walked by the Spirit (Galatians 5:25).  This way of living differently so marked out earliest Christians that people would wonder if they weren’t some kind a new species or race. Perhaps you can recall an old admonition I learned in Sunday School.  It goes something like this.  “If you were arrested as a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” I am not a good patient and I am not someone who exhibits patience as a part of my daily walk with Christ.  What I am is a sinner saved by God’s grace.  It is in this relationship that I am lifted up to “be more than I can be.”  Thanks, Bob, for helping me live the faith that is so life giving.  In the background noise of our age and time, I need to remember the words of the Savior and Master – “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them” (Matthew 18:22).