Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Emergency Room

My An Arkie's Faith column from the January 10, 2018, issue of The Mena Star.

Last week my Mom called my wife to let her know that she had gotten an appointment with the cardiologist. When she got off the phone, my wife immediately called me to tell me that I should take my Mom to the emergency room. “Mom was out of breath from talking on the phone. She needs help now,” my wife said. I called my Mom and told her that I would be there in 15 minutes and go with her and Daddy to the emergency room.

Daddy drove Mom, and I followed in my shop truck. When we arrived, I planned to go inside and get a wheelchair, but Daddy drove up to the emergency room door, and Mom got out and walked inside. I quickly parked and ran in to help her. When I got inside, I saw that the waiting room was full. I hurried to catch up with Mom. She was at the registration desk. They asked her what the problem was, but she was so out of breath that she couldn’t answer. I told them that she couldn’t breathe. In less than a minute, there was someone there with a wheelchair, and they whisked her away.

I finished with the registration process, and then they took Daddy and me back to see her. She was already on oxygen and able to talk with us. I was thankful for the quick response of the emergency room team, but I couldn’t help thinking about all those people in the waiting area who hadn’t been helped yet.

If you’ve ever been to the emergency room, you’ve experienced the process known as triage. Triage is a French word that means “to sort out,” and it refers to the system that doctors and nurses use to decide which patients are in dire need of help and who isn’t. I looked up triage in the dictionary, and one of the definitions given was, “the sorting of patients (as in an emergency room) according to the urgency of their need for care.” If a doctor were to treat someone with a cold while another patient with a heart attack goes unattended and dies, the doctor and the hospital would be in trouble. Some situations call for immediate attention, while others can wait. I’m thankful that the decision was made to help my Mom immediately.

Every day, each one of us has to make triage decisions in our life. We only have 24 hours. We have to decide what is most important to us. I recently read a story that illustrates what is most important. A time management teacher stood in front of his corporate overachiever students. He said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” He picked up a gallon, wide mouth jar and set it on the table. Then he took some fist-sized rocks and placed them in the jar. When the jar was filled to the top, and he could fit in no more rocks he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said “yes.” He said, “Really?”

He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in, and asked them once more, “Is this jar full?” By this time, the class was on to him. “Probably not.” one of the students said. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar, and it went into all the spaces between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?” “No,” the class shouted.

Then he took a pitcher of water and poured it in until the jar was full to the brim. The truth this illustration teaches us is that If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you will never get them in at all. What are the big rocks in your life? If you sweat the little stuff, the gravel, the sand, the water, you will fill your life with little worries that don’t matter. You will never have the real quality time that you need to spend on the big things.

What is the biggest rock of all? What matters most? In Matthew 22:36-39 (NKJV) we read, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Mother Teresa said, “It’s not what you do, but how much love you put into it that matters.” Barbara Bush said it in a slightly different way, “What matters most is how you treat others and not what you have done.” Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:2,3 (NLT) if I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”

Gentle Reader, what matters most in life is love. The Apostle John tells us in 1 John 4:16 (NLV) “We have come to know and believe the love God has for us. God is love. If you live in love, you live by the help of God and God lives in you.” Love should be your top priority, primary objective, and greatest ambition. Love is not just something good in your life; it’s the most important part. In 1 Corinthians 14:1 (NLT) Paul tells us to “let love be your highest goal!” It is not enough just to say that love is important; we must prove it by investing time in our relationships with God and people.

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