“God Will Make A Way” – Our Ministry in Florida (Part 2)

Moving From Florida May 2000

Moving From Florida in May, 2000

The pressure and the fear of failure was lifted from both Cathy and me when I was notified I had successfully passed the Florida Medical Board exam. The personal interview with the full board in Orlando in January, 2000 was a formality but still was quite an experience. I had to await the arrival of the license before the Indian Rocks Medical Clinic could begin operations, so the official opening date was set for the first week in February.

Following opening of the clinic we began treating a few patients each day. We anticipated a slow start until there was a general awareness of the clinic. and we anticipated this would take several months. One piece of medical equipment I was learning to use was the x-ray machine. We had a reasonably good machine donated along with a film developer but did not have a volunteer technician to take and develop the films. Within a few weeks I was able to take satisfactory films, and this made me appreciate more fully the value of x-ray techs. I was glad to finally be doing the health care ministry to which I believed God had called me. It was certainly different from the surgical practice of the previous thirty-one years.

After two months of clinic operation I began having serious doubts about my future at The Indian Rocks Medical Clinic. There were two significant events which greatly affected my continuation as Medical Director. One was already in place when I arrived, and early on I had missed its’ significance. In the by-laws of the clinic structure the Medical Director was an ex-officio member of the clinic board. This meant I had no vote on clinic operation matters, and as Medical Director did not have final authority. In effect, I was an employee of the board, whose chairman was the pastor’s wife, and she had been the driving force for the founding of the clinic. Despite the fact she had no prior medical experience, she was very adamant on how the clinic was to be operated. The second event was the decision made by the board following my arrival to transition from a strictly minor emergency clinic to a general medical clinic as well. This meant we would accept church members for medical care which might include treatment of diabetes, hypertension and heart trouble. These primary care problems were outside of my professional skill levels, and the medical liability risks in Florida were much too great for me without taking additional training.

I appealed to Pastor Martin to intercede by having the clinic by-laws changed giving me the control of the clinic, and to make me chairman of the board. It had become evident I was not able to work harmoniously with the current chairman. He said he was not able or willing to make those changes. I told him my only option was to resign, and I felt badly about leaving after such a short tenure. I had desperately wanted the clinic to succeed.

There was great sadness in Cathy and me over what seemed I had misread God’s call for our lives. We prayed and decided our next move should be to Fayetteville, Arkansas where our daughter Ginny and husband John Luther lived. Our sorrow was turned to joy when we made the phone call to Ginny to tell her our decision. Her first comment was, “You are not kidding me, are you?” When we assured her we were moving there, she put the phone down and began whooping, hollering and dancing which we could hear through our phone. Her dog Scout joined in the celebration with loud barking. Amidst all the initial excitement of the start-up of the ministry in Florida, Cathy and I had greatly missed our children and grandchildren in Arkansas.

The next big step involved selling our Florida home which unfortunately fell on the shoulders of Cathy. I had to move to Arkansas as quickly as possible to find a job. Cathy had become  skilled in marketing and selling homes, and we prayed for a fast sale. She alone began the arduous task of once more packing all our household items. Ginny and John found an apartment for us in a good location which was just a few miles from the hospital. We decided I should load a U-Haul trailer with enough furniture for temporary living and proceed to Fayetteville to interview for a possible job in the wound care field. I hated leaving Cathy alone in Florida, but financially we had only enough savings to live for two to three months without some source of income.

The morning I drove alone away from our Clearwater home was one of the saddest days of my life. I felt like not only a failure in my profession, but a spiritual failure as well. I believed I had missed the call of God and was now a sixty year old physician without a job. Without Cathy to encourage me on the trip I had a huge pity party and didn’t invite anyone to attend. It continued for many miles and for at least six to eight hours. It “just happened” I had the radio tuned to a Christian station in the Memphis area. A song began playing which got my full attention; “God will make a way where there seems to be no way. He works in ways we cannot see– God will make a way for me. He will be my guide, hold me closely to His side. With love and strength for each new day- He will make a way– God will make a way.” As I listened to all the verses of the song, tears of thanksgiving and repentance ran down my face. I had to stop driving for ten to fifteen minutes, because it was such a powerful and emotional experience. I asked God to forgive me for not trusting His sovereignty, and I would purpose to follow wherever He leads and not look back.

My entire attitude changed that morning while driving outside Memphis, and just about the time I got into the traffic of the city, I got a telephone call from Cathy. She excitedly told me she had just sold the house for our asking price. I got so excited I took a wrong turn, got lost in Memphis, and it took an extra fifteen minutes to locate the correct road. I didn’t fuss or fume one minute like I usually would have, because I was continuing the song in my heart, “God will make a way-–.”

Dr. John


5 thoughts on ““God Will Make A Way” – Our Ministry in Florida (Part 2)

  1. I remember that phone call very well and I’m still waiting for the next one when you say you and mom are coming back to Fayetteville!

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