I sat in Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital, in Dallas, most of the day on Monday waiting for my younger brother to be taken in and have a device installed in his body to assist his heart. Baylor is a great hospital and I sat there grateful for such facilities and for doctors who had the training and the ability to do such things. In the waiting room were several other families sitting all huddled up talking, laughing, praying, reading and waiting. I wish they would rename waiting rooms to something else. Who likes to wait? Maybe it should be called “Hoping Room” or “Expecting Room” or “Anticipation Room”. But, I guess when you get down to it, you are just waiting, so “Waiting Room” will do.
Just a few days earlier, we were doing the same thing with Ronnie Reed. Robert and I sat with Evelyn and waited. They had to stop his heart and jump start it again to get the rhythm right. It is a scarey but truly amazing thought that someone can go into your body, stop your heart, tinker and twist a few things and jump start it again.
Before that one, Keith had his chest cracked open and his plumbing reworked. For hours we sat there waiting, hoping and praying that the operation would go well and that he would be fine. The room was full of people. We laughed and visited, but everyone of us knew exactly why we were there. Messing with the heart is a serious matter.
It wasn’t but a few years ago when Alan, one of our elders, went in for a stress test and ended up having emergency open heart surgery. I think there was more of us there to support him than there were patients in the hospital. At least, it seemed so. And on top of that it was the 4th of July. It gets worse. It ended up being around midnight. Who in their right mind would have heart surgery on a holiday? But, when you need it, you need it.
Over the last twenty nine years I must have been through this process a couple of hundred times. Not one time has any one of the doctors asked me to come into the operating room and do anything. They are in charge. They are trained. They are the ones equipped and they are the ones willing to take the risk to mess with someone’s heart. And, if I live another twenty nine years, it is doubtful that any doctor anywhere on this earth will ever ask for my assistance. I am a good waiter, but I am not a doctor. I had no qualifications to fix anyone’s heart. I can wait with the best of ’em but cutting and patching has to be left up to someone else.
There are two kinds of heart problems. There are those which affect the blood pumper, as in each of the cases above. And then, there is the heart responsible to God. Religious arrogance sometimes wants to step in and act as though it can fix this heart. Preachers and scholars often get confused and go in the wrong room. They try their hand at the operating room when they need stay only in the waiting room. You see, I could have taken any one of these patients to the hospital and handed them over to the doctors in charge, but I could never do the surgery. I am not qualified. When it comes to the inner heart, I am not qualified either. I can wait. I can even deliver the patient to the doctor. But, past that, I am, as you are, powerless. It is the Great Physician who can heal the heart, not me.
It is my responsibility to have concern. If someone needs to see the doctor, I can encourage them, take their hand and walk with them, but I cannot do the surgery. I can only wait. I can do a little teaching about the necessity of seeking the physician’s care, but I am powerless to fix the problem.
So, in the waiting room of Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital I found my role in life. Encourage those who are sick to see the doctor and then go with them and watch and wait. The difference is, with Jesus, there is no hospital. He actually makes house calls. He, the Great Physician will come to you. He can overhaul your heart in a living room or in the back forty. It is He and He alone who is qualified to fix the problem. I cannot fix my own, must less someone else’s. He can.
All of the doctors who are so skilled at repairing the blood pumping heart will also have to visit the Great Physician to have their inner heart repaired. Jesus can and will bind up the broken and give it new life. He and He alone.
You and I are just waiters. We are in the waiting room of life, supporting families and individuals while the Great Doctor does His work. We can pray, visit, laugh and hang out together during the process. We are powerless to fix the problem. But, as with the other heart, it always seems to help the patient when they know that their friends and family are out there supporting them.
You know, if we are not careful, we might just find out what church is all about in this picture. Are you “waiting” with anyone right now?