Wednesday, December 08, 2010


That's Svetlana over there. She was my Tech .. technician who tended my requirements that didn't require a nurse, while I was in the Intermediate Care Unit, at Shelby Baptist Medical Center. She was there Saturday and Sunday, 7am-7pm.

More about her later.

When I was first taken to the ER, I was, as Jeff (the nurse on duty) said, really, really sick. He mentioned that nothing added up, with me. I was somewhat of an anomaly.

Before they trundled me off to SICU, where I spent the next 2-1/2 days, they made sure everything was in order, I'd been checked for bedsores, linens clean, etc; that the nurse who'd be tending me was quite protective toward her patients. And, indeed, she was.

About 4:30-5:00am on Thursday .. I'd slept from 3:27 to 4:05 .. she came into my room again to check something. She'd been walking around softly singing things like "Go Tell It On The Mountain", and when she came into my room, she started in on "I Surrender All". So I started singing a little harmony with her.

She heard me and sang louder, and I heard her and sang louder.

Folks, we had us a duet.

In fact, a couple people stopped by and said it was great (speaking non-musically, I presume).

Next few visits were a wonderful time of ministry for me. It was God-ordained, as I don't know of a lot that will cheer up a sick patient like doing some Heavenly work, despite earthly woes.

When Peg came in just before shift change, she spoke to Peg and said "Your husband has blessed my soul". You and I both know it wasn't me; God just let me in on the goodies.

A little later, a lady came in to run a test on me. We got to talking about spiritual things .. her name was a clue .. and she said "I have learned the most important thing in this life is "I AM"."

Amen and amen.

Shortly she asked if she could ask me a question. She had questions as to how a small church that grows huge can maintain "ministry". I told her of what I'd observed, and she thanked me for it. Then she asked what I thought was happening when someone says "I'm being led to leave here" .. speaking of the church he's serving. I again gave her my observations, and her comment was "I knew you were a man of God, and now I know why He sent you here".

More chills & thrills.

There was a further episode with a lady who came in to draw blood. We had a wonderful time rejoicing in the Lord.

Still more thrills & chills.

Then there was the pleasant young lady Chaplain who visited me in SICU, too. When she came in, she introduced herself and we said the usual hello's. Then I asked her to tell me about herself. She described her education .. perhaps wondering why I was questioning her .. and at the end she said she'd attended SWBTS. So, I asked her if she was there when Dr. Klouda was there. She brightened up and said yes, she was, albeit she hadn't ever taken a course from her. That led to a discussion on women in the ministry, the "Official SBC position", some of the actions that had taken place. She asked my opinion and I told her.

We talked for nearly an hour. It was a fascinating time for me, to think that I might have something to say of interest for a Hospital Chaplain, rather than vice-versa.

Which brings us to Svetlana. When I moved into the room, they wrote the names of the Nurse, Tech, and Charge Nurse on an information board in my room. They listed the tech as "Lana". But when she came in, I saw her name tag, and called her by that name, of course.

Next time the nurse came in, I asked why she was shown as "Lana", and the nurse said Svetlana'd told them if they had trouble saying the Russian name .. she was from Belarus until 9 years ago .. just call her Lana.

Next time Svetlana came into the room, I asked her to do me a favor: please change her name on the board. I'd been to Russia, knew some folks there, and knew how to say her name. She acted so happy, and changed her name. She said she was really happy to have someone who could say her name.

I then told her we learned some songs in Russian, so I recited the parts of "Because we Believe" and "I Love You, Lord" in my now-13-year-old Russian. Again, she was so happy.

At that point, Brad walked in and I asked him to snap her picture, which you see above.

NOW: for years, I've taught that what the church really needs is not more programs or plans or outlines. We need its people to simply live as what we are. And happy to be so. We wear a wedding ring because we're happy that people will know we're married. We wear Alabama or Auburn T-Shirts or Sweatshirts or License Tags because we're happy for folks to know those things about us. But I don't see a lot of external evidence that we're Christians, which is the most important there IS, about us.

Why are we reluctant to have them know that about us?

The verse which says "He that winneth souls is wise" is normally used as an inducement for church folks to go out on a "witnessing visit" or some such. But as I read the original language, that verse says that it's wise to "gather" "living beings with vitality". Like making friends, building relationships, and being so happy in our faith that when people have a Spiritual need of which they become aware (whether lost or saved), well ... "Who ya gonna call?"

In the end, December 1-6 proved to me that what I've been teaching all these years is really true. Gee .. who knew?

Furthermore, those days shed a new light on what Wade Burleson blogged about, here. God put the desires to do those things recounted here .. to talk to people .. in my heart for reasons which run clear back to my childhood. But all of them have made me whatever it is that I am, now. And insofar as it lined up with Biblical principles, it wasn't just God's permission to act like that. It was my obligation to do so.

Delight yourself in the Lord and He'll give you the desires of your heart, I read somewhere. Let's act like it, OK?


At 2:44 PM, December 08, 2010, Blogger Aussie John said...


What a delight to read about someone who knows that our times, good and bad,are, indeed, ordered by the Lord.

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose".

Thanks for the blessing!

At 1:10 PM, December 11, 2010, Anonymous ~Mad said...

So true, so true.
I have been receiving radiation (again!) at UAB and have loved talking about my experience with grace. In fact, I have been running my mouth! and I am usually not so talky.

As my pastor always tells us - "God is good at all times and in all circumstances."

~Mad(elyn) in Alabama

At 2:36 PM, December 13, 2010, Blogger foolery said...

"Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross,
To see a fine lady upon a white horse;
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
She shall have music wherever she goes."

While this nursery rhyme was written about Lady Godiva, AHEM, it was the first thing I thought of as I read this post. You bring your "music" with you wherever you go, boB, and no matter how crummy you may feel at the time. I'm sure those who cared for you in the hospital feel blessed by having met you. : )

Glad you're all better, my fine friend.

At 4:01 PM, December 13, 2010, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Lady Godiva was one of the first gambling addicts. She put everything she had on one horse.

Not to mention she's the origin of the phrase "Hooray for our side" (which was the crowd's reaction on one side of the street she was on .. seeing as she was riding sidesaddle and all.....).


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