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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday Crisis Part II

Lying on the cold, linoleum floor of the kitchen, I forced my respiration to slow so my heart rate would relax. I needed to concentrate my efforts on how to get my stricken body off the floor and up to that wall phone. How in the world had my young, healthy body suffered such a crisis, just by reaching for a bottle of cream rinse for my hair during my shower?

I began giggling, realizing that when I could share this adventure with my ultra-modest Australian mother, her first response would sound something like, “Oh, Honey, you must have been so relieved to get your clothes on before anyone found you.” But, first, I had to get to the end of this saga to ever be able to tell her the story.

I squirmed and squiggled my carpet-bound body into position. Reaching up, I took hold of the long, twisted phone cord. I’d asked for the extra-long coiled cord, so that I could speak and work at the kitchen sink. If I had only the standard length, it would’ve been far out of my reach.

Giving it a tug, I felt relief at the resistance. Maybe the cord would allow me to do a kind of one-handed repelling up the wall.

I managed to get my knees moved under my body enough to provide a certain amount of leverage. I pulled with all my might. I heard a click, but the cord held.

Bouncing on my knees, I released the cord; quickly grabbing on a bit higher up. Unfortunately, I’d under-estimated the strength that had returned to my legs, slamming my right side into the wall. Down I fell, no doubt bruising my upper arm. “Okay, you’re getting your strength back,” I said to my knees. “Let’s see how the rest of the body is doing here.”

I leaned my back against the wall, scooting my rear back until I hit the baseboard. Carefully, I stretched out first one arm and then the other. Both trembled; but at least, the right arm now moved like the left one. Gripping my jeans felt the same in the fingers of both hands, so maybe the coordination had begun to return, too.

The growing relief ended when my review had reached my neck. Tipping my head produced excruciating pain shooting into my head and down my spine. “Yeow! Okay, easy does it,” I warned myself. “But, body, you’ve still got to get to the hospital.”

I sat a moment to re-group and consider the best way to stand. Remembering how we’d walked up the wall as kids, I urged my knees back and pushed into the wall. Inch-by-inch, my body slid up the kitchen wall. At last, I stood, but discovered I’d angled away from the telephone.

I crab-walked to the right, grabbing on to the cord as soon as it touched my fingertips. My trembling legs began to buckle under me, but yanking the cord kept my staggering body upright, kind of.

I squeezed my aching fingers around the cord, taking slow, deep breaths. As soon as I felt my legs pushing up again, I jerked the receiver off the cradle. I had to rotate my body slightly to get a finger into the dial, stuffing the receiver into my shirt. No way could I lean my head to trap the phone between my ear and shoulder. I didn’t want to let go of the cord either.

At last, the sound I’d longed to hear, “Hospital. How may I help you?”

I wanted to cry. Instead, I said, “Would you, please, call Maxine to the phone?”

As I waited for the Director of Nursing to pick up the phone, I tried to figure out what it was I wanted. I lived only about two blocks from the hospital. The staff of the ambulance service all worked as volunteers. Since it was Saturday, they might not even be in town. It could take more time to round up a crew to go to the ambulance garage than it’d take for me to get myself to the hospital. Could I do that?

“This is Maxine?”

“Oh, hi Maxine. Uh, well, I think I need to see a doctor. Is Greg around?”

“No, he’s out of town this weekend. What’s wrong? Are you sick?”

“I don’t really know. Uh, I was showering and, uh, my arm just dropped. It’s kind of a long story, but I think I might need to have Doc look at me.”

“Okay. I can call Doc; I’m sure he’s in town. Should I phone you back, or do you just want to come on in?”

Thinking about how hard it had been to get this one call made, and realizing she’d probably hang up by the time I could get myself back up to answer the ringing, I said, “No, I’ll just come now. I can wait there for him.”

“Okay. I’ll call him and see you when you get here.”

I hung up the phone, breathed a deep sigh of relief; and only then did I realize my legs felt stronger. Prying my fingers away from the phone cord, I took a few wobbly steps away from the wall.

I made my way up the steps to the outside door on my rear-end. I needed to spare what strength I did have in my legs for the trek from the front door to my car. How thankful I was to have automatic transmission in this car. If I could just get into the car, things should be okay. All went well, relatively.

By tugging on the metal rail, I managed to climb the steps at the front of the hospital. Soon Doc had declared my blood pressure “Normal,” and everything else he could check at the bedside.

He suggested I spend the day there so the nurses could keep an eye on me; but assumed I’d be fine, after I’d recovered from what he thought had been a migraine headache. I thanked him for the pain shot he’d ordered, and back home the compassionate, elderly physician went.

Doc had been right about one thing: After the pain shot and resting in the darkened room all day, I did feel much better. I could move my head with minimal pain by the time I left the hospital.

Unfortunately, Doc had not been correct in his diagnosis of the cause of Saturday’s painful episode. The migraine-like pain had an elusive and much more serious origin. I’d be fine only until the next attack.

****Crisis Re-Visited…Coming next week.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Saturday Crisis

Clean underwear, jeans and shirt in hand, I headed for the bathroom. How I loved the easy-start to Saturday mornings. I had yet to make a plan for my day off; but one thing I knew for certain, I’d not be going to the hospital. For once, I’d completed what I had on my to-do list by quitting time on Friday.

As the hot stream rinsed the ocean-scent of the lathers off my body, I dripped the shampoo’s flowery fragrance into my dark-brown locks. Of course, I sang at the top of my lungs as I did the morning shower-dance. The slow rotation of my body accompanied each projection of a soapy limb, with intermittent scrubbing of my scalp.

With all body surfaces clear of cleansing solutions, I twisted to the right, reaching for the plastic bottle of Tame hair conditioner. (Truly, the recent introduction to such a product proved the strength of peer pressure. The Lord had blessed me with locks that never needed such a product, but everyone else used hair conditioner, so I caved.)

I’m not sure if my fingers actually lifted the bottle off of the right-rear corner of the tub; everything happened so suddenly. At the same time as my right arm fell limp at my side, a searing pain shot through my head, and I began to lose strength in both legs. The incredible pain in my head increased as soon as I tried moving my neck.

What’s happening to me? A stroke? People in their twenties don’t have strokes. Wha-a—“

Emergency orders sprang into my mind, interrupting my soft whispers. Get out of the tub! Now! Moving only my left arm, I turned off the flow of water. Realizing how hard it had been to turn the knob, I knew my remaining arm had begun to lose strength.

I struggled to lift each leg over the edge of the shallow tub. As soon as I’d set the second leg on the floor, my body lost all strength, crumbling into a heap.

“Okay, now what?” I said to the hand just under my shoulder. “Can I move you from out of there before you go numb?” I lifted my left shoulder and forced my right elbow to pull back, freeing my right hand. I couldn’t help noticing that my upper arm didn’t move when the elbow did. “Body, listen to me,” I said, my scratchy voice trying to growl like a drill sergeant. “You’re going to stretch out, get those clothes on, and get outta here. Now!”

The heavy, invisible weight had my naked body pinned to the carpet. I grunted as I pushed and pulled, but nothing happened. “Fingers, stretch out. Left hand, go! Move.” Focusing every ounce of strength on my index finger, I noticed a slight twitch. “Right! Now, thumb. Go! Move!” Focusing on the tip of my thumb, I felt the rest of the index finger finish the stretch.

“You see that, you sluggard fingers? Get out and join the thumb and index finger. Now!” I groaned and grunted, as the rest of the fingers slipped free, slapping the open palm to the floor.

“Yes! Okay, right hand; you’re turn now. Move.” The agonizing, inch-by-inch choreography continued for close to an hour. I used the meager movements to include dressing.

Clad in jeans and tee shirt, I snaked my way out through the bathroom door, relieved that I’d not closed it earlier. I wondered if my elbows and forearms would get carpet-burn as I wiggled my way through the short corridor to the linoleum of the kitchen.

Finally, I’d made it. The extra-long, curled cord of the wall phone swung just above me. Stretching hard with my left arm, I gripped the curve of the cord. If only I could pull hard enough to free the receiver from the cradle.

“Well, while you’re making those ‘if only’s’,” I said out loud to the dangling cord, “how about ‘if only it was a weekday,’ so someone would notice you’d not come to work. At least, then, someone would come looking for you.”

“Lord, I need your help. Somehow, I need to get the strength to pull on this cord, displace the receiver from the cradle on top of the phone—,” which was exactly when I realized the nearly-ancient phone had an old rotary dial. How would I get to the standing position to reach the dial and coordinate the rotation of the thing? I release the cord, slumping back to the floor.

“If it takes all day, body, you are going to stand up and use that phone. You are going to the hospital today!” I set my jaw, repositioned the alignment of my body with the kitchen wall, and reached again for the cord,

****Saturday Crisis, to be continued tomorrow****

Saturday, January 24, 2015


When my business meeting in the city ended early enough for a trip to the large grocery store, the fatigue of the day left me. Excitement grew as I pulled out of the hospital parking lot. What treasures would I find on those shelves today?

Our little country grocery held the basics, and sometimes a few special treats; but Jimmy’s couldn’t come close to what this huge store could offer. The area ranchers all took advantage of the opportunity to visit the various shops and stores whenever they needed to drive the hour and a half to the city for appointments or meetings.

Up and down the fully-stocked aisles I moved with my shopping cart. Having been a city-dweller most of my life, I loved the feeling of being on more-familiar ground, as much as delighting over the purchases accumulating in my cart. I discovered one point of assimilation, though. I’d come to enjoy the area’s music preference—country western—which streamed down on all the shoppers.

Noticing the time, I rushed to the check-out stand. I didn’t want to be on that long, isolated stretch of rural road when the sun was setting. I moved to the checker whose last customer had just lifted her bagged purchases off the counter.

“Howdy! Did you find everything you needed today?” said the checker, as she began swiping my purchases.

“Yes, I did and some I didn’t need,” I said, as we both laughed.

I’d passed by the display holding cartons of cigarettes; but now my eyes returned to rest on the stack of Marlborough Lights. No one here knows you, the inner voice said. Go ahead and buy a carton. That’s your brand. No one will know. Who’s to say you can’t have a cigarette once in awhile?

My heart rate increased and an enormous rock dropped in the pit of my stomach. To my shame, I reached out and plopped the carton down with the last of my purchases.

“I didn’t know you smoked,” a voice said behind me.

Like a child caught with her hand in the cookie jar, I froze. Turning around to see who had recognized me, I saw Linda’s smiling face. Linda, a lady my own age, a resident of my new town, and whose acquaintance I’d recently made during a Bible Study. Linda, who was trying to stop smoking.

The intense heat filling every inch of my neck, ears, and face alerted me to the obvious; my guilty embarrassment glowed. “No, Linda, actually I don’t.” I reached for the carton of cigarettes at the same time as the clerk.

“Oh, you’ve changed your mind? You don’t want these after all?” The clerk released the carton, waiting for my response.

“No, I don’t. Well, I do want them; but I’m not going to take them. Sorry.” The rock in my stomach began to dissolve as I set the carton back on the nearby display. Turning back to Linda, I said, “I’m sorry you saw that, Linda. Actually, I guess I’m not sorry, because, had you not been here today, I would have purchase those cigarettes.”

“It’s okay; I understand. I’ve struggled to quit a few times. I’m doing better, and just might make it this time.”

“The sickening thing is, Linda, the Lord helped me quit ‘cold turkey’ when I came to Jordan. I had only smoked for seven months—and a few other things I’d rather no one knew about—but I left that all, when I drove out of town, you know? I’d not had even the smallest desire to return to that life, not one. Then, just now seeing that display—well, I’m just glad you came along. I don’t want to go back there. Thanks for saying something; you saved me from a huge mistake.”

We shared the traditional American farewell embrace, promising to encourage each other to live out our convictions.”…to reject the wrong and choose the right,” as the Bible says in Is. 7:15.

It’s been forty years since this episode in my life; yet it’s as fresh in my mind as if it happened this morning. Linda did make it and remains a good friend, though we live far from one another now. I believe that the poor witness I’d been to Linda that day brought such shame to me that the remembrance of it continues to serve me. No, I’ve never had another cigarette; but even better, this painful experience keeps me from ever again being tempted.

In Romans 12:1-2, I read, Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Since I long to know God’s perfect will in my life, I’m working hard to “reject the wrong and choose the right,” in every area of my life. As my experience at the out-of-town grocery store proved, God is interested in helping me succeed!

Friday, January 23, 2015


One morning, a few months after I’d taken over the reins of the hospital, I felt a bit lonely. I’d moved my desk upstairs, in order to have a quiet place to work, but only the Director of Nurses ever ventured into that lofty spot on the Second Floor. Oh, the others greeted me cordially enough when I passed them in the corridor; but I longed to just have a casual chat with the people working in the building. Like friends chatting about the kids or pets over a cup of coffee.

“You’re the Boss,” the Vice-Chairman of the Board (and good friend) reminded me when I voiced my desire, “no one’s going to feel comfortable talking around a table when you’re there.”

“But, I was the Boss of the ambulance service on the reservation the year before last, and my folks loved me. We always had coffee together and sometimes even meals. It didn’t take long before they teased me when I’d made a mistake, either. I was one of the family, you know?”

My friend just shook his head, lifted his coffee mug in salute, and said, “Well, this isn’t the Res.”

“Do you have any idea how long it’ll take before the employees stop ending their coffee break or meal as soon as I set my tray down?” I said, putting my palm over my empty cup to signal the waitress I’d finished.

“I’m not sure it’ll happen in your lifetime,” my friend said, gathering up his notes from our Noon meeting at the cafĂ© on the hill.

Driving back to the hospital, I reminded myself of the first part of a favorite memory verse. Psalm 68:6 says, “God sets the lonely in families ….” How I missed my family on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation; they’d been such fun to work with. Still, I consoled myself, I’d only been at this new job a few months; I might win them over yet.

About two weeks later, I ran into the husband of my part-time secretary. “Did you hear the news? Mrs. Jensen* died last night.”

“Oh, Keith, no; I hadn’t heard.”

“Yeah, no one even knew she’d been sick. I think a neighbor called and didn’t reach her; but I’m really not sure what happened.”

Ninety-five-year-old Mrs. Jensen had welcomed me so warmly when I first arrived. She’d even invited me to tea that first week. I often crossed her path when running errands in town, and her friendly smile never failed to brighten my day. I’d been meaning to get back for a visit, but--.

“She was from here, right?” I tried to recall meeting any of her family members as I spoke to Keith.

“Mrs. Jensen? No, she wasn’t from here. I think she’d only lived here about fifty years.”

Only fifty years? The Vice-Chairman’s words echoed in my ears; he might be right after all.

Even-so, I developed a few close friendships in the small, rural church. How beautifully they lived out the verse in Romans 15:7:

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

How grateful I am that there’s no waiting with Father God for acceptance. It’s immediate.

*Name changed.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Reg’s Dilemma

I sipped at the hot coffee, listening to Susan’s delight as she shared the details of a new vegetarian recipe. My landlady had invited me up for coffee when she rescued me from her son’s impromptu visit.

Earlier that day, two-year-old Reggie had been drawn to my lower-level apartment when his tiny ears picked up the distant sound of guitar chords. I’d looked up to see the boot-wearing lad in my doorway. Playing his air-guitar, shifting his little boy hips from side to side, he mimicked my strumming. “I’m a Rhinestone cowboy!” declared the toddler.

Now upstairs, I tried to concentrate on Susan’s words, but I’d caught sight of little Reg out of the corner of my eye. I wondered what the little character had in mind, standing over there by the ironing board. Susan had noticed her son, too.

“Reg, what are you doing over there?”

“Nothin’, Mama,” the little cowboy said, twisting his body around to face us. He warmed my heart with that killer-smile of his.

“Well, you’d better not touch that board, or it’ll come crashing down on your head. Get away from there, Reg.” Susan turned back to me. “I planned to put the thing away, but then something interrupted me. It’s folded and leaning against the wall, so it should be okay while we have our coffee.”

“He’s so cute,” I said in a whisper, “how can you ever discipline him?”

 “It’s hard not to laugh out loud sometimes.  We just never know what’s next with Reg.”

I glanced over to see if the boy had heard us; it didn’t appear he had. He stood with his back in front of the leaning board, softly singing, “I’m a rhinestone cowboy.”

“Yesterday,” Susan began, “Reg was walking to the church to go to Sabbath School. He loves to wear his suit, so he looked pretty sharp.” I smiled at the picture that had formed in my mind. “Some boys chided him, “Hey, Reg! Where ya goin’ all dressed up?” They laughed at him, but Reg just stopped, and turned to look at the boys. He put one hand on his hip and pointed the index finger of the other at them, shaking it like a school teacher, and said, ‘I’m goin’ to Sabbath School. If you had a lick of sense, you’d be going, too.’”

We both laughed—a bit too loudly, as it turned out. Reg looked right at us and frowned. “Stop talkin’ ‘bout me, Mama.”

Reg returned to his singing; apparently not expecting a response from his mother. I noticed the little boy’s position related to the ironing board had changed. His back nearly touched the board; half a step back, and he’d be against the board.

Susan returned to reciting the ingredients of the new recipe and cooking instructions, but I kept an eye out on Reg. Sure enough; he took that last step, and was flush against the board. Susan hadn’t noticed.

Flipping through her new cookbook, Susan looked for the second recipe her sister had mentioned to her. I listened to pages turn, but looked over to see Reg caught in a trap. He stepped forward and the board moved. He stopped, turned his head towards the top of the descending board and backed up.

I listened to Susan’s discourse on the joys of the new recipes, but struggled to restrain the smile caused by Reg’s dilemma. Again, he took one step forward, and tipped his head to check on the falling board. Another deep sigh and another step back up against the wall. I wondered how long Reg would keep up his little dance.

When it looked like his frustration might just get the best of him, I reached over to touch Susan’s arm. Looking up at me, she arched her eyebrows. I tilted my head in Reg’s direction; Susan followed my cue, and said, “Reg?”

The two-year-old’s stricken face, furrowed forehead and tightly pressed lips, spoke volumes. “Mama,” Reg began his staccato reply, “”

I watched Reg’s loving mother move to rescue her disobedient son, and thought about the times Father God had stepped in to rescue me from a trap my own disobedience had made. I had called on the Lord, and He had answered me. He had not condemned me, but like Susan to Reg that day, had asked me, “Do you know how you got in this mess?”

And, like Reg, I had answered, “Yup, and I’m really sorry.”

The tenderness of our forgiving Heavenly Father is as real as little Reg’s mother’s. God loves us. He knows we mess up sometimes as we grow. Still, God waits for us to call on Him to get us outta the mess. The Lord delights in hearing His name from a desperately-ready heart.

Friday, January 16, 2015


Holding out a huge stock of flowery, green stuff, my upstairs landlady said, “We just bought a flat of broccoli. I wanted to share it with you, because I’m not sure you have much chance to get to the grocery store during the week. Seems like it closes before you leave the hospital, right?”

“That’s about right for most days. I’m hoping that will change, now that the press to renew our license is finished.” I tried not to look at Susan’s outstretched arm; the vegetable balanced on her open palm.

“Good. Well, anyway,” she said pushing the veggie at me, “here’s the broccoli. Enjoy!”

I took it out of her hand, amazed at the weight of the heavy green bundle. “Uh, er, the thing is, Susan, I don’t really eat broccoli. It’s really nice of you to share it with me, but--” I held out my hand for her to relieve me of the broccoli.

“Nonsense. Have you ever tasted broccoli?”

“Not that I can recall. My mother never made it for us, so she probably knew that we wouldn’t like it.” Even I had to laugh at such a ridiculous excuse for returning her veggie offering.

“You’re kidding me, aren’t you? Your mother never gave it to you? Not once?” I shook my head. That’s all it took for Susan to launch into the benefits of the dark-green plant.

“Look, Susan, I know it’s probably good for me, but I haven’t even a clue how to cook it, you know,”

Susan scanned the countertop; then, opened the cupboard that housed the pots and pans. “Here. You just wash the broccoli under the tap. Put just about an inch of water in the pot. Add the broccoli and cover the pan. Listen for the boil, because that’s when you start counting the minutes. You do have a timer, don’t you?” I held the little jewel aloft. “Terrific! You’re just gonna love broccoli; I know you will.”

“Really, Susan, you should take it back. It’s going to be wasted on me. I’m not really much of a vegetable-eater, unless it’s green beans--which I totally love.” I moved the hand holding the broccoli up and down, trying to persuade Susan to take it.

“No. I’m not taking it back. You have to try it, just once. I know you’re gonna love broccoli,” Susan said with the fervor of a television evangelist.

I let a loud sigh escape my lips; gave Susan a twisted smile; and followed her to the front door. “Try it!” she said over her shoulder, bounding up the steps two-at-a-time.

Retreating to the kitchen, I followed Susan’s instructions to the letter. I resolved to cook the broccoli, take one teensy bite, and then, return the cooked broccoli to Susan. No reason to toss good food out; she’d eat it.

I allowed myself a quick smirk as I plunged my fork into the hot vegetable and retrieved a morsel. After blowing on the broccoli, I bit off a tiny bit. Hmm, not bad, I thought. I lifted the pot off the stove, turning to move over to the kitchen table.

I set the hot vessel down on a folded towel, and continued chomping on a few more of the tender flowers. Five minutes into the taste-test, I knew I needn’t dirty a plate; I’d be the only one eating the broccoli. Susan was right; I absolutely loved the broccoli.

As I sat at the table, savoring the delicious flavor of the fresh vegetable, a verse in psalms came to mind. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

I laughed right out loud; God has such a cool sense of humor. “I get it, Lord. I rejected something You knew I’d really like, if only I’d give it a try.”

How many times do we miss out on something really good, preferring the known to the uncertain? The verse in Psalm 34:8 adds a bit of supernatural assurance to the admonition.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.” (NIV)

In the King James Version, the verse finishes with “blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.”

As I came to the end of the pot of broccoli (which constituted my entire dinner that night) I reassured myself that many years earlier I had tasted and had seen that the Lord is good. But, I had to ask myself, “Do you trusteth in the Lord? Or, do you just trusteth Him when you already know what’s ahead?”

The lesson of the broccoli served to wake me up to more than the delightful taste of a new fresh vegetable. Good thing, too, because the Lord had planned a world of new experiences ahead of me. I’d have plenty of opportunities to taste and see new things, as well as learn to trusteth in Him, and often to take refuge in Him, too!

Broccoli? I still love broccoli. I can eat half a plate of it with a piece of fish—my idea of a great meal.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Four Steps To Understanding

Twenty-six pages of deficiencies. If not corrected in the next two weeks, the State Licensing Board threatened to close our doors. The small hospital was the only medical help for sixty-nine miles… delivering babies, suturing ghastly wounds from equipment accidents, providing ready access to a cast for novice tree climbers, and stabilizing crash victims for transport elsewhere. The three thousand residents of the isolated, farming community entrusted the retention of their hospital’s license to me, a twenty-six-year-old university grad who knew nothing of hospital administration. The biggest task was to write all of the policy and procedure manuals, plus a job description for every position. What was I thinking last week, when I agreed to tackle this challenge?

Driving away from the Sunday morning worship service, I had one thing on my mind: Get to the hospital and work. Normally, I didn’t work on Sunday, because I knew the Lord had intended it for a day of rest. But, the inspectors were coming in a few days; God would understand.

Changing out of the fashionable polyester of that era, swapping my dress boots for everyday comfort, I grabbed my overloaded briefcase. Four steps into the short climb out of my lower-level, garden duplex apartment, a wave of nausea struck my empty stomach. Whipping around, I flew down those steps and back through the front door.

Once in the bathroom, however, my stomach felt fine. “Hmmm? Okay, guess I had too much coffee and not enough to soak it up this morning. I’ll get something to eat at the hospital.” I lived alone, so talking out loud came naturally.

Snatching up my briefcase again, I hurried back out the door. On the first step, I felt a slight queasiness. Once my foot hit step number four, I was certain I’d not make it to the bathroom. I dropped my briefcase, sprinting back down those few steps.

Even before I’d crossed the living room, the nausea lifted. “Okay, God, what’s the deal? You know I have to work this one Sunday, don’t You? All of these people are counting on me.”

“Do you?” While I had spoken softly, His reply came as a gentle awareness of His Presence in my spirit.

I sank to the country-style sofa, bright floral upholstery enveloped me. Looking up as though God stood right in front of me, I explained. “Look, God; no one knows better than You just how ill-equipped I am for this task. I must’ve been nuts to think I could turn things around for this hospital. But, the people are counting on me; I’m their only hope to keep their doors open. I just have to try; You understand, right?”

“I understand all things. Yes, the people are counting on you. And, you? Who are you counting on to help you do that job?”

Oh boy, He had me there. Without God’s help, I’d never succeed. Sliding to my knees, I bowed my head. “Father God, I’m sorry. Please forgive my foolish reliance on myself for this monumental task. I can do nothing without You and You ask so little of me. I won’t work today. Thank you for helping me understand the seriousness of the day of rest.”

After retrieving my briefcase from the fourth step, I took up my guitar and enjoyed a time of personal praise and worship with gusto. God cared about me enough to chastise me; I felt loved. I spent the afternoon visiting friends.

I worked hard for the few days before the inspection team arrived, stern-faced and loaded with all kinds of paperwork. I’d done my best, but would it be enough? The entire day, I answered questions and pulled files. Though none were visible, I felt their white gloves being swiped over every inch of my work.

At the close of the day, the inspectors handed me a sheet of paper with five points hand-written. Across the page was a stamp, Waived. They accepted those last five deficiencies, because the age of the facility didn’t allow for those corrections to be made. The hospital had passed the inspection.

When the official licensing letter arrived, I counted it a privilege to display the enclosed approval notice. The wall-mounted certificate proved a constant reminder of God’s ever-present involvement in my daily life.

Nearly four decades later, the lesson learned on those four steps remains fresh: God loves me and expects me to honor the day of Sabbath Rest. Got it.

Deut. 5:12-14: “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do.”

The above is one of the Ten Commandments the Creator God gave to the people… not because He is a tyrant, but because the One Who made us knows best just what we need. There’s a time to work and a time to rest--a lesson God didn’t need to teach me twice.