“That doctor saved my husband’s life.”
The soft-spoken words of the attractive, middle-aged woman took me by surprise. She had just barely walked up to the checkout window, laying her purse on the shallow counter and her emotions on her monogrammed sleeve, when greeting me with this simple, yet somewhat forthright statement.
I wasn’t familiar with the patient, nor did she know that the doctor to whom she referred sometimes drooled on my pillow when sleeping, but it was clear that this was information she felt compelled to share, the importance of which superseded the business of scheduling a follow-up appointment or providing the co-pay.
“Really?” I responded. “What happened?”
The woman recounted an office visit she initiated on her husband's behalf. She recalled to me that her husband was somewhat agitated about the appointment, protesting loudly about the interruption it would cause for his standing tee time, further arguing that it didn’t make much sense to see a doctor when there obviously wasn’t anything wrong with him.
Nonetheless, the man kept the appointment, and met my husband for the first time during his physical exam. The golfer didn't have any health issues or any symptoms suggesting concern; he just wanted to appease his wife with this yearly consultation he hoped would ease her unfounded worry.
During the exam, it was discovered that there was something peculiar sounding in the thingamajiggy found on the side of the man's throat.
(The sweet lady was very specific about her husband’s condition, citing medical jargon that caused the neurons in my brain to scream, "WHAT?! I DIDN"T EVEN KNOW THAT THERE WAS SUCH A THING LOCATED IN THE THROAT! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!"
But because I am now considered professional personnel in John's office, all outbursts have to be kept to a minimum. In an effort to continue to hide what a true, medical moron the doc's wife happens to be, I nodded my head as intelligently as possible, faking my way through the medical terms that caused this couple such grave concern.)
The condition was imminently life threatening and surgery for the man was scheduled the next day. The blockage was immediately removed, leaving an angry six inch scar on his neck, but the opportunity for many more golf games completely intact.
Since that time, the woman continued to explain tearfully, she tells all who will listen, that her physician saved her husband's life. Family members, friends from church and long-time golfing buddies are now all patients in our practice because of the zealous and gracious message this woman proclaims. Her news, she says, is too good, too joyful, not to share with others.
Driving home this afternoon, I began thinking about the woman's reaction to the second chance at life her husband had been given. As a believer - as one who is just as grateful that Jesus granted me a second chance, allowing an eternal existence and an infinite number of golf swings - shouldn't I be just as zealous and gracious about the message that saved my own life? Shouldn't my news be too good, too joyful, not to share with others?
I don't have the medical capabilities, training or intelligence to prevent physical death for others, but I do have the capability, training and intelligence to impart the way to everlasting life. Just like those my husband treats in the exam room, situations that sometimes waver between life and death, the interactions I will have during this lifetime are strikingly similar. It is a matter of life and death for all those that I meet.
I know the remedy for an empty and broken life, and I pray that my passion, my compulsions, will mimic that of the grateful woman, who through a random doctor's appointment, was given many more nights to sleep beside her husband, allowing the same drool to accumulate on her pillow as I do on mine.
"I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life." John 6:47