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« Character vs. Characterizing | Main | The Intangibles »

Surgery Prep

When they insist that you arrive thirty minutes before your first appointment for physical therapy, you know it’s so they can slam you with paperwork.  You will rack your brain to recall all the medications you take.  You will have to answer yes or no to whether you have (or have had) hundreds of medical conditions (is “maybe” an acceptable answer?).  Had any major surgeries?  The one that stumps me every time is the date I had my gallbladder removed.  ’03? ’05?  Who cares? But that question at least started me thinking about a spiritual application: how does one prepare for an operation?

Yes, living the Christ-life means going under the proverbial knife.  There’s the heart transplant, the new tongue, the new brain, new eyes and ears, the feet replacement, the thorn insertion, plus, the implantation of a set of eagles’ wings.  But, in spiritual as well as physical surgeries, you must endure all the offensive unpleasantries of preparation.  You have to sign the consent form, shed your stylish outfit, don the dreaded drafty gown, stretch out on the gurney, surrender control of your body to the anesthetist and trust the surgeon.  The surgical suite staff cannot force an unwilling patient to succumb to an operation.  Doctors and nurses will not chase you down the hospital corridors, tackle you and drag you kicking and screaming back to the carnage chamber.  Only you can decide your fate.

In the sense of risk, all surgeries are equal—some are just more equal than others.  If you’re scheduled to have a heart transplant, you have days (or maybe weeks) of prep time ahead of you, plus a team of surgeons needs to participate in the operation.  Open heart surgery is a big deal, and the recovery time is long, slow and painful.  But that’s only to add a few years to your natural life.  When the Great Physician oversees a spiritual heart transplant, why should it be any less traumatic?  Yes, your old flesh will suffer, your ego will hurt, and your pride will die, but we’re not talking just a few more years for a less-than-quality life.  We’re talking eternity with Christ!  

Figures for surgical no-shows are reported to be 34% in the US, but higher worldwide, and as high as 60% in some countries.  Reasons given range from miscommunication and/or misinformation to personal problems.  Exorbitant cost, irrational fear, unwillingness to be inconvenienced and a general lack of trust in the medical system may also motivate cancellations by the patient.  The hospitals or clinics, however, can cancel surgeries.  Most of the time, they cite incomplete or no preparation as the cause. 

Are you serious about a spiritual overhaul?  Do you pray about change, but “chicken out” when you approach the deadline?  Are you more like Demas who loved this present world than Paul who crucified the world to himself?  Do you think you can just go to sleep one night and wake up the next morning as an entirely different person?  As long as you run away from the preparation stage, you will never take the victory lap. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

Climb up on the table.  Submit to the procedure.  You’re in good hands. 

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