Wednesday, I showed up at the hospital for my 6:30 a.m. appointment praying they would be on time. I was coming for my pre-surgery screening, and the scheduler had warned me that the appointment would take about two hours. But everyone knows that a two-hour appointment in the medical world could easily end up being three or four hours. And I had work to do back at the office.
I arrived a few minutes early as they had asked, and immediately I set out to complete the clipboard of forms they handed me. More medical histories, more allergy lists, more sections to fill out emergency contact information and my current employer.
Shortly after I turned in my paperwork, I was called back to a small room filled with the usual medical decor: desk, small cot, rolling chair, countertop with containers of cotton pads and hand sanitizer. There was a framed picture hanging precariously low on the wall. My nurse, Jan, began asking me questions, then quickly moved into taking my blood pressure, drawing blood, prepping me for an EKG.
Throughout the morning, Jan was in charge of when I went to get my chest xray, when I would see the nurse practitioner. If I had a question, she checked my notebook and always found the answer. When I asked about where I should report to next Thursday for my surgery, she said, “Don’t worry, I’ll show you on our tour at the end of your visit.”
A tour? They had scheduled a tour?
Somewhere during the visit, Jan asked me more personally about my cancer. She wasn’t taking notes, didn’t need to know for the record. She was just asking. What were my symptoms? How did I know? How was I doing now? I told her what my doctors were saying, how they were hopeful, how they were trying to help me think of this as a chronic illness rather than a death sentence.
Jan was looking at me straight in the eye now. She was saying, “Oh that’s good.” And then, “That’s right,that’s how you have to think about it.” Somehow, it was like she knew how important it was for me to be thinking right about this.
“I’m a cancer survivor,” she told me, closing up my chart and preparing to move me toward the next part of my visit.
“Really?” I asked, thinking how healthy she looked.
“Yes,” she said. “And that’s really how you have to think about this.”
At the end of my visit, after Jan had instructed me on the special soap I was to use the night before my surgery and reminded me about the beeping noise I would probably hear in the recovery room when I woke up, she walked me right down to the very room I would come to next Thursday.
Then, as we turned to head back to the lobby, she handed me a piece of paper and said, “I want you to have this.”
I looked down at a color photo copy of a picture of an operating room that she had tacked on her wall in the exam room.
“Thank you,” I said. “I saw this in your office.”
“Yes, this is what I believe surgery is like,” she said, and then we parted.
As I looked more closely at the picture, I realized it wasn’t just a picture of an operating room. It was a picture of a surgeon operating with Jesus directing his every move.
She knows you, I thought as a prayer to Jesus. Jan knows you and she wants all of her patients to know you.
When I left the hospital exactly two hours after my appointment started, I felt thoroughly prepared for my surgery. I passed my EKG and chest xray with flying colors, and my blood work all came back healthy and hearty. But I also left there feeling spiritually ready, thanks to Jan. The reminder that Jesus would oversee all that happened in that operating room built courage in my heart.
Jesus doesn’t just direct doctors’ hands. That day, he was also leading a nurse’s heart.
My friend Megan wrote about a DJ who, as a Christian, was wondering if his work really mattered since he was “just” a DJ at a country music station.
Then, at a recent funeral, a woman came up to him and said, “My father was sick for nine months. He couldn’t get out of bed. But he looked forward to the four hours a day of your radio show. That’s what he lived for, right up until the end.”
Megan concluded, “The high calling of your daily work doesn’t have to be spiritual. This country music DJ is good at his job. He impacts lives.” And I couldn’t help thinking of Jan when I read that.
I also couldn’t help thinking about my work, and the high calling we all have to do our work well.
Join me for regular jaunts around The High Calling network, randomly visiting fellow bloggers, soaking up their words and ideas, and then coming back here to write about them from my perspective.
Each Thursday, consider going “There and Back Again” yourself. It’s simple.