Monday, October 23, 2017

When Memory and Reality Don't Quite Match Up But the Service Remains


I almost always say yes. That leads to lots of open doors, and is one of the reasons I have such a fun and exciting life. Every once in a while, though, I wish I'd taken a little longer to consider my yeses.

I've agreed to write the story of the work of Baptists in Gilead. It's an enormous task that will be a full-length book if it's ever finished. When it's finished. Sorry. I had a moment of doubt, but I'll press on until it's done, because I've given my word. 

The stories of the service in this area over a forty-year period are simply amazing. To gather those stories, I've interviewed tons of people about the doctors and nurses who worked here, the amazing sacrifices they made, and the lives that were changed.

When I began to assimilate the stories, I found an unusual thing. The actual timeline doesn't always match the perceived timeline of memories. On occasion, the people given credit for an action weren't present in the country at the time. Sometimes, a person who did something remarkable, according to the "facts", is never mentioned by the people I interview.

It's been confusing. Frustrating. Difficult to sort out. I finally have official records for the timeline and am making progress in sorting memory from reality.

What I've realized, though, is that, even when memories are a little skewed, there's still some important truth hidden within. One of my favorite stories was of one of the doctors and his wife. It was winter and the pipes had frozen at the hospital. As you can well imagine, the soiled laundry at the hospital quickly piled up. 

One of the doctors (I'm still not sure about which one did this) realized there was a shortage of clean linen. He loaded up the dirty linen in a huge bundle and toted it to his house. He and his wife washed and dried all the laundry. This was before the days of electric dryers, so they probably had to hang them over doors and furniture.

When it was done, he toted it back again. 

The laundry was done during the time he wasn't seeing patients. He used his "off-time" to wash soiled hospital sheets. 

Do you know the kind of filth that's on hospital laundry? This is not something you want to handle in your home, or by yourself. 

The doctor didn't complain or argue or whine or ask someone else to do it. He didn't claim his important medical work as a reason for someone else to do the dirty work. He simply did what needed to be done.

Every time I remember that story, I think about the great cloud of witnesses in heaven as they leaned over and watched the doctor and his wife wash sheets late into the night. I suspect there was great rejoicing over the humility and servanthood of those two sweet people.

Theirs is an example I want to follow. No job too big or small. No pride to stop my service.

The memories aren't clear yet on who did this work, but what's most remarkable of all is that there are several physicians who lived such lives of service and sacrifice that any of them might have done this good work. 

Let's imagine for a moment what the body of Christ would look like to a dark and perishing world if we served the way those doctors served. 

Imagine no task left undone because it was too hard or too dirty. 

Imagine finding the difficult work done and saying, "There are so many people I know who might have done this without complaining that I don't know which one did it." 

You know what people outside the church would say? The same thing they said here: "Those doctors loved perfectly. They served Christ and gave their lives for the people here." 

If we lived and loved in such sacrificial ways, another thing would happen. People wouldn't just take note. They'd want what we have, and our world would change, one heart at a time.

Today, let's look for unexpected ways we can serve, then step up and do what needs to be done. 

"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interest of others. Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus, who. . .humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Philippians 2:3-8 nasb
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There are many stories I'd like to share with you about this amazing journey, but they can only be shared in person. I'll do another brunch (like last time) to allow an opportunity for story-sharing, but I'm also happy to share with groups of any size. Message me to schedule a time.
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In case you missed the most recent post, here's the link: When Your Prayers Need a Little Help From a Friend

If you feel led to partner with this ministry, here's the link to give your tax-deductible donations: Global Outreach Acct 4841 

You can also mail your check or money order to: Global Outreach/ PO Box 1, Tupelo MS 38802. Be sure to put Account 4841 in the "for" line.