The Shepherd by Julien Dupré (1851-1910)
I was once asked by a doctor, with whom I work, “Don’t you want to serve a higher purpose in life?”
I replied, “Not at the expense of my own life.”
Allow me to give you the context of the conversation that led up to that interaction.
We were working a very long week, and as it was coming to a close that Friday afternoon, I was exhausted, both physically and mentally. We were still operating the outpatient facility with only one room, but were seeing entirely too many patients every day. Opening a second room, with additional staff, was still being discussed; so, where today we might see between sixteen to twenty patients in two rooms, then we were seeing about fourteen in the only room. It was ridiculous, but knowing the business model, it was necessary to justify the second room addition which we all appreciate today.
So, we were all tired, and had seen a lot of patients that week, and as Friday grew long, the doctor wanted to spend two hours on one patient, placing stents and doing all that we could think of to save the access. Back then, we also were not as efficient as we are now, and so stent placing was still a much bigger deal. When the doctor said we were going to place that stent, I verbalized my frustration and said something to the effect of how even if the doctor had nothing to do on a Friday night, I did, because I had a life. It was probably one of the most selfish things I had ever said, as I basically ignored the existence of the patient on whom we were working. The doctor, understandably, got angry in his own frustration. Which leads us right into the question he asked me which I quoted earlier.
As I think back on that day, and what that interaction meant, I wonder just how it might have gone if I had been saved prior to. See, I got saved a year or so down the road, and so I was still self focused and prideful, and I suppose to an extent, I still am so. But, with God in my life, I have grown a little, and become a little more patient, and more apt to see what others are going through, even if they still don’t see me. So, I wonder.
I wonder if that conversation would have even taken place. If, while I was exhausted, would I have acted the way I did? It’s possible, because even today, I resort to my flesh every now and then. I’m human and flawed. I try, but sometimes, I fail. But had I not verbalized my frustration, would his question had come up? And if it did, what would have been my answer?
That, at least, is something I do know. If I had saved prior to, I wouldn’t have answered as I did. I would have had a different answer, but would I have verbalized it? I don’t know. Of course, this is all hypothetical, because there still would have been a lot of testosterone and tiredness flying around, so who can say? But, in my heart, this is my answer:
Yes. I want to serve Christ and perform the will of God in my life. Even when I am tired. Even when I am frustrated. Even if the week has been outrageously busy and seemingly unfruitful in any way. I want to serve the Lord, even if I don’t feel like it. In my heart, I do serve a higher purpose. And praise God! It is He Who gave me that desire. It is He Who drew me to Him, and Who still does draw me closer day by day.
“No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:44
And so, today, I will gladly give up my life, my idea of what a Friday night (or any other night) should look like. I will forgo my idea of what having a life looks like. I want for myself that which God wants for me. I want only those things which are given by Him, and I want to recognize that He gives all things freely to me because I believe in Him. My life is no longer my own, for I was bought with a price, and in return, I want to be the bondservant of Jesus. I want to serve Christ, even at the expense of my own life, or at least, what I thought my life should have been. I understand what Jesus meant when He said,
“If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23
May we all understand what it means to serve that higher calling of God. May our own flesh be set aside, day by day, and may the old selfish men and women we once were remain dead and buried, never to be seen again. When we are asked why we do the things we do, and say the things we say, when we are living and speaking the Truth, may we be prepared with an answer. May our mouths be anointed by the Spirit to speak of the Truth, in Love, with patience and kindness. May our lives, no matter the circumstances, look like Christ’s. May we acknowledge our lives as being His every moment of every day.
Lord, may I never again say something so selfish as I did that day. May my actions, through Your strength, never lead the conversation to such a point of frustration. May Your love and grace always flow forevermore through me upon those whom You have placed around me. May my life become more of a testament of You and Who You are. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.