For more than twenty years now, as part of my everyday life, I’ve had the privilege of serving as a professional life coach for Christian doctors, while also being one of the pastors of a church I love. I love my church. And oddly enough, I love Christian doctors.

There’s an interesting connection between those two realities that became rather obvious to me a few years ago, as I was making a hospital visit to one of the physicians I coached. He was suffering from kidney stones. He was part of a small group of Christian doctors and when some of the group members learned that colleague and friend was in the hospital, and I was going to be going to see him and pray for him, they asked if they could join me. An odd sort of feeling, for me, I think, as doctors who were professional ‘hospital visitors’ seeing sick patients would now join me to see one of their own. I, of course, was delighted and we agreed on a time we’d all meet to pray for the doctor who had kidney stones.

I don’t know how many hospital calls I’ve made in my more than 55 years of pastoral ministry. I make a habit of not staying too long. I’ve always tried to hold to the idea that I’m not there to ‘visit.’ I’m there to pray for that patient, and encourage them as they try to recover from whatever ailment brought them to the hospital in the first place.

But one thing happened on the day I was joined by three doctors to visit and pray for the friend suffering from kidney stones that I had never given a thought to before.

We met in the hospital lobby, before we all entered an elevator and ascended to the third floor. Like physicians doing rounds, we all walked in. I led the way to his bedside, assuming the doc’s who joined me were following behind. But I was wrong. All three of the doctors did something I had never, ever done in making a hospital visit. They walked over to sink in the room, and washed their hands. Carefully, and as if they were scrubbing for a surgery, they took turns washing with soap and water. I waited for them, until all three of them were finished. As we then circled the doctor in the bed, the doctors with clean hands asked doctor-to-doctor questions about blood work, pain med’s, infection threats. All kinds of words and letters strung together that meant something to the doctors, but were totally foreign to me. We finally joined in prayer, and told the doctor we’d continue to pray for a speedy recovery, before we left his room.

As I drove away from the hospital that day, I replayed the movie in my head of those doctors washing their hands before they prayed, and I wondered about my hands and my heart, and how little thought I often give to making sure I am in a spiritually prepared attitude for ministry.

“Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart …” (Ps. 24:3)

2 thoughts on “Cleanliness

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