Impressions and Actions

“The ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them.” (Num. 10:33.)

GOD does give us impressions, but not that we should act on them as impressions. If the impression be from God, He will Himself give sufficient evidence to establish it beyond the possibility of a doubt.


How beautiful is the story of Jeremiah, of the impression that came to him respecting the purchase of the field of Anathoth. But Jeremiah did not act upon this impression until after the following day, when his uncle’s son came to him and brought him external evidence by making a proposal for the purchase. Then Jeremiah said: “I knew this was the word of the Lord.”


He waited until God seconded the impression by a providence, and then he acted in full view of the open facts, which could bring conviction unto others as well as to himself. God wants us to act according to His mind. We are not to ignore the Shepherd’s personal voice but, like Paul and his companions at Troas, we are to listen to all the voices that speak and “gather” from all the circumstances, as they did, the full mind of the Lord.—Dr. Simpson.


“Where God’s finger points, there God’s hand will make the way.”


Do not say in thine heart what thou wilt or wilt not do, but wait upon God until He makes known His way. So long as that way is hidden it is clear that there is no need of action, and that He accounts Himself responsible for all the results of keeping thee where thou art.—Selected.


“For God through ways we have not known, Will lead His own.”

Lettie B. Cowman, Streams in the Desert (Los Angeles, CA: The Oriental Missionary Society, 1925), 303–304.

Spiritual Growth in the Later Seasons of Life

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What are the Four Spiritual Movements in our seasons of life? How relevant are they in the later seasons?

No Time to Die, Caleb the Spy

Life lessons from Caleb, the bronze age spy. It goes to show that even an old dog (Caleb means dog) still can do tricks.

Praying from the Belly of a Fish

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Jonah’s desperate prayer.

Travel bubble or air bubble?

Letters to a Young Doctor: Axe

Sharpening Your Axes

Ecclesiastes 10:10 (NIV)

10 If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success.

Our calling to be doctors requires us to be life-long learners. Most of what we have learned in our time in medical schools will be out of date by the time we graduate. We are living in a time of digital and genetic revolution. Emerging technology and genomic manipulations will make many changes in our practice of medicine that unless we keep up to date with the changes, we will be left behind.

Aside from learning new things, we must keep sharpening our medical skills as we go along. The lesson from Ecclesiastes is that an axe may start out well when it is new and sharp. Continuous use will blunt the edge. So will our clinical skills. Unless we are care, continuously reviewing and retraining, our skills will deteriorate. Experience may mean the fruit of repetition. It may also means repeating the same mistakes repeatedly. So take opportunity of every learning situation you encounter. Also always strive to be better than you already are. Success in medicine is knowing what to do, when to do it, and doing it well.

An axe may be sharp. It is then only a sharp axe. It is nothing without the skill of the woodsman or woodswomen who yields it. Learning is a whole body experience. It is not just head knowledge. It involves patience, muscle memories, and our transformation. As Christians and as medical professionals, our learning must involve a great appreciation of the Creator of this universe and lead us into deeper worship.

Further reading: 2 Timothy 2:15

Prayer: Lord, help us to keep our skills and mind sharp so that we may serve patients you have given us well. Amen

Letters to a Young Doctor: Fears and Anxieties

Fears and Anxieties

Psalm 46:1–3 (NIV)

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

Mental health issues are very high among the medical fraternity. This is often not noted and highlighted until someone suffers a metal breakdown or commit suicide. Every year, a large number of mental practitioners resigns to seek other employments. This silent pandemic is often well known but not highlighted. Doctors, by their training, are problem solvers. Doctors who share their mental problems are often stigmatized as being weak or not fit to be a doctor. These issues are real issues. Practicing medicine is a high stress profession. Not only a doctor has to deal with helping a patient, the doctor also has to interact with the patients’ families, the senior doctors, and the working environment. A doctor may not have the extra time he/she needs to destress and unwind.

Hence it is vital that a doctor develops a close relationship with the Lord who is our refuge and our strength. No matter how busy we are, we can carve out segments of time to pray and be still before the Lord. It is a means of destressing as we pour out our anger and anxiety to him. The Lord understands out situation very well. The Lord is also our refuge as we seek to rest in him. And he will give us the strength to go back into the wards or clinics.

Having this outlet allows us to deal with our fear and anxieties. It is essential that we remember that we practice medicine but it is the Lord who heals. There are many things that are not in our control. We need to identify those things that are under our control and take care of them. Those which are not under our control, we have to learn to let go and let the Lord takes care of them. We have to deal with our fears and anxieties or they will destroy us.

Further reading: Psalm 46:10

Prayer: Lord, please take our fears and anxieties. Be our refuge and strength. Amen.

Letters to a Young Doctor: Portrait

Portrait

Jeremiah 18:3–4 (NIV)

3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

Eugene Peterson, a pastor, shared a story about getting his portrait painted by a German artist during his student days. Instead of a handsome, wise, caring face, the artist painted a gaunt face with sunken and sunken eyes! This, the artist who had lived through the Second World years when the church supported the German state, said Eugene look like if continued on his course to be a pastor. In the coming years as a pastor, the work will squeeze the morality and compassion out of Eugene until he will look like the person the artist painted. Eugene kept the portrait, occasionally looking at it to remind himself not to become like that.

Being a doctor is a privilege. It is hard and stressful work with long hours. The price is often very high: broken marriages, estranged relationships with children, little friends, and even less leisure time. The work of doctor is similar to the work of a pastor. If we are not careful, it can squeeze the morality and compassion out of us.

A successful doctor will be crowned with prestige, fame, and wealth. All these are very tempting and there is never enough. We may be tempted to take moral shortcuts at get more.  The more successful, the more it demands of us in terms of time and stress. We will have less time to pray, read the Bible, and be involved in a church community. Stress and tiredness make us less compassionate. We became irritable and impatient. Let us resolve early in our career on how much success do we want and to decide how we want to balance our career, family, and church.

Further reading: Mark 8:36

Prayer: Lord, mold us into vessels for your use, and protect us from too much success. Amen.

Letters to a Young Doctor: Apple

Apple that falls far from the Tree

2 Kings 22:2 (NIV)

He [Josiah] did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.

Josiah was one of the good and faithful king of Judah. His grandfather, King Manasseh, was one of the worst king of Judah. He allowed Baal and Asherah worship in the Temple, which he also converted into a sex shrine, and made human sacrifices (he even sacrificed one of his own son!). King Manasseh ruled Judah for 55 years. Josiah’s father, King Amon, was no better and ruled for 2 years. Yet, out of this culture of evil and idolatry, Josiah grew up faithful to Yahweh. One of the mysteries of life that no matter how bad the environment, sometimes, something good may emerge. The axiom that “an apple never falls far from the tree” is not always correct.

One of the challenges of working in a medical environment is that the department in which a young doctor works may be filled with selfish, lazy, and totally unmotivated colleagues. Some may be senior and just marking time waiting for their pensions. Others, not only are they disinterested in caring for patients, but also lacking in any medical skills. William Osler noted, “By far the most dangerous foe we have to fight is apathy – indifference from whatever cause, not from a lack of knowledge, but from carelessness, from absorption in other pursuits, from a contempt bred of self-satisfaction”. Working in such environment may be depressing and dispiriting.

During the dark reign of King Manasseh and King Amon, Josiah and Jeremiah were born. These two, one destined to be a religious reformer king and another a prophet of God, grew up in the dark times. Yet, their souls and spirits remain uncorrupted.

A doctor’s working environment may not be always ideal. Whatever environment you find yourself in, do not allow it to corrupt your spirit and your soul. Do not allow it to lower your standard of medical care. Pray for protection and thrive.

Further reading: 2 Kings 23:1-3

Prayer: Lord, help us to adapt to our working environment but no to be corrupted by it. Amen.

Letters to a Young Doctor: Chosen Ones

Chosen Ones

Jeremiah 1:5 (NIV)

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

When I started medical practice after my graduation, it was a great thrill to be addressed as Doctor! Now after fifty years of practice, it has become my name. It feels strange (to me) to be addressed by name without the doctor in front. I am the doctor. Did I choose to be a doctor? Yes! Will I do it again? Yes! Jeremiah gave a new perspective on this. Did he become a prophet? Yes, he did. Did he want to be a prophet? Yes, he did, abate reluctantly at first. Initially, it seems like our choice that made us who we are. On closer examination of what Jeremiah wrote, it seems that it was God who created us, chose us, and send us to be what we are now. So becoming a prophet should not be a surprise to Jeremiah. God created Jeremiah to be a prophet; he equipped and sent him forth to an unwary Israel. What about us. Did God chose us to be who we are now, equipped us and sent us forth? I believe he did. We are not here by accident but by divine planning even before creation. There must be times when we look around our working environment and wonder if we are in the right place, or even in the right profession! Jeremiah must have felt the same way! What we can learn from Jeremiah s that he stuck to his calling with honesty and integrity in a hostile environment, just doing what has created him to do. What about us? Can we do less?

Further reading: Jeremiah 25:3-5

Prayer: God, help us to be who you have created us to be and do what you have chosen us to do.

Ending well

How do we complete our faith journey well? How do we end well? There are many challenges and obstacles in our way. Four principles to guide our journey.