My wife Cathy has been my greatest encourager in my Christian walk and service. God gave us a unique ministry together when we were both saved at a Bill Gothard seminar in Dallas in 1977. At the time we were both religious in our attitudes and faithful in our church attendance but did not have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. Our reasons for attending the Bill Gothard seminar were different from each other, and neither one of our reasons involved a conviction that we needed to be saved. We both thought that because of our proper attitudes and good service for the Lord, our God had already given us His favor at some point in the past. For me going to a 5 day meeting in Dallas gave me a break from a very busy and sometimes hectic medical practice and would allow me to rest and relax for those few days. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to listening to a Christian speaker for as many hours as he was scheduled. Cathy said she was going to use what free time we had shopping in the myriad of stores that were available to her. In encouraging us to attend Bubba had told me that if, at the end of the conference we weren’t completely satisfied with what we had experienced, he would pay for all of our expenses. I thought perhaps we might have a 5 day vacation in Dallas and Bubba would get to foot the bill! Needless to say both Cathy and I were very surprised at the work God did in our hearts that week and the transformation that occurred when we humbly submitted ourselves to Him.
Everything inside of us changed, and we were empowered with a hunger to not only know His Word and hide it in our hearts, but also to do His Word. There is a distinct difference between doing good works and doing His Word, and we were beginning to make that distinction. We were discovering spiritual growth and Christian service are life-long commitments of obedience to Him. In grasping the significance of the principle of the sovereignty of God we affirmed God allows everything and superintends all events whether good or bad. For things we consider bad He promises to work all things out for our good and His glory. (Romans 8:28) It is important to firmly fix this truth in our minds when we are in the light, because when dark clouds appear and great trials or tragedies occur, it is hard to think anything good can come from it. Part of the reason for our struggle with this is because we live in the now and do not see the tomorrow, which God clearly sees and knows. In simple language the principle is this; everything is Father-filtered.
One of the times when Cathy would have to remind me of God’s sovereignty involved taking emergency calls at the hospital. When my surgical practice was at its’ busiest, I was on call every 4th night and that usually meant 2 or 3 trips to the emergency room. There might be a person with acute appendicitis, or an abscess needing to be drained or a deep laceration too complicated for the emergency room physician to properly handle. A trip to the ER might last only an hour or so, or it could take the entire night to resolve more complicated problems. This would not have been such a problem had it not been I would have a full schedule of operations and clinic patients the following day. Spending the night giving emergency care meant no sleep until the following evening, and a big part of the training of a surgeon is learning how to maintain maximum efficiency with very little sleep.
I can remember vividly on several occasions when around 11 PM as we were preparing for bed, the phone would ring and it was the ER nurse. She would inform me that she had an individual with a gunshot wound to the abdomen requiring emergency surgery, and I was needed as soon as possible. Several things I would immediately know as I was dressing to go to the hospital; I would be at the hospital for the remainder of the evening, and I would not receive compensation for my work because without exception, gunshot victims were uninsured. It actually cost me money for these types of operations, because I had to pay my nurse and surgical assistant for the time they had to spend at the hospital. The more I focused on those two factors, the more distraught I would become which resulted in grumbling and murmuring to Cathy and to myself. As Cathy would snuggle down underneath the warm covers on the bed, she would remind me that “everything is Father-filtered.” If I were in a particularly foul mood, I would respond with something like; “that’s easy for you to say as you settle in for a good night’s sleep!” What I didn’t know until later, was that on more than a few occasions, Cathy would remain awake and pray for the safety of the patient,for my strength, and that I might have the chance to lead someone to Christ.
I have said that the road from our home to the emergency room was paved with words of forgiveness I had to pray for my occasional sour attitude when facing an all-night operation. By the time I got there, my heart would be right and my mind would be rightly focused. I was able to witness God’s love on many occasions to my patients and saw some converted to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus. None of this would have been possible apart from the empowerment of the Holy Spirit which was partly actuated by Cathy’s prayers and her reminder to me that it was all filtered by our Father! As I remember all of these events I can more clearly see God’s hand in all of them.