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Monday, May 11, 2015

11th May 2015: Beyond the Reasonable Call of Duty

Whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be the servant of all. Mark 10:44 (AV)
This passage is worth reading in its full context, for it is preceded by the episode in which two disciples asked for the chief places in the Kingdom, and Jesus countered them by saying that true greatness went with service and ministry. It is followed by the episode of blind Bartimaeus, sitting by the highway begging.
Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus as he passed by, only to be hushed up (by the healthy, one supposes!). He was getting in their way, a nuisance, preventing them from doing what to them was more important. But seeing his fleeting chance of help Bartimaeus refused to be silenced, and Jesus was not one to stand on his dignity -- he had come to serve, not to be served. Here was one needing service. Jesus always held himself available for people like Bartimaeus.
One of the problems of being a doctor is that so many people seem to expect us to be available at all times. They may not necessarily be patients -- they may be relatives, or nurses needing some question answered. Often the request for our time comes when we are tired, or are just leaving work for some well deserved relaxation. Often the request seems unjustified and trivial compared with our need for some privacy and leisure. Yet when and if we answer the request, we often find that it is more urgent than we had anticipated, or that it reveals some unspoken anguish or misapprehension at which we had not guessed. This is not always so -- sometimes the request really is trivial. But if we are following in our Master's footsteps, we dare not stand on our dignity and behave as if we were 'the great ones' not to be troubled by trivia. 'For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many' (v45) -- the key to our reading.
Lord help me not to be impatient with those who make
what seem to be unnecessary demands on my time.
Give me the grace to be courteous, and ready to give
of myself to those whose requests appear trivial
but whose needs may be greater than I realise.
Further reading: Mk 10:35-52.

12th May 2015: Guidance (1) -- Recognising God's Guidance

The Lord will guide you continually. Isaiah 58:11
God's promise of guidance is certain and repeated. He has recreated us and has a prepared plan for our lives (Eph 2:10). Jesus himself promised that his followers would not walk in darkness but have the light of life (Jn 8:12). Yet recognising God's will remains a practical problem, particularly perhaps for junior doctors who have to make frequent job decisions which could determine their whole future. We can be caught between the Scylla or rushing ahead with our own plans, assuming them right, and the Charybdis of being reduced to jittering indecision, lest we are making a mistake.
The following stem from long experience:
1. God is more anxious than we that we should know his will, trying neither to delude us not to obscure his plans. But his promises are not magic formulae triggered with a magic wand. We are not always ready for the answer for which we ask. God's promises are often conditional on prerequisites in the recipient. 'In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths' (Pr 3:6 AV). 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God...and all these things shall be added' (Mt 6:33); 'If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask whatever you will and it shall be done for you' (Jn 15:7).
2. God sometimes withholds guidance, having some better thing for us, 'therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you' (Is 30:18). His delays are for our greater blessing.
3. Guidance comes in different ways to different people and in different ways to the same person. He is a living God of resource and initiative, seldom working in the same way twice. We sometimes pray for guidance and fail to recognise it when it comes.
4. We may not be acutely aware of God's guidance at the time, but with hindsight can see how unerring it has been. A multiplicity of 'coincidences' of circumstance and timing assure our hearts of his good hand upon us. In his good time we see the picture emerging from the jig-saw pieces.
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