A Christmas story from Dr. Scarborough.
Christmas reminds me that this tangible world is about more than the tangible. It reminds me there is more than just a physical body. It reminds me that the God of heaven and earth – that is not tangible – put on a shell of a physical body to rescue me and you and remind us the greatest thing on earth is not physical, but spiritual. This is humbling as a doctor. I treat the physical body pretty well with medicines, but how do I handle an eternal soul? Recently I saw MercyMed and Highland Community Church come together and handle a soul well. I pray for many more stories like these. Christmas reminds me that this tangible world is about more than the tangible. It reminds me there is more than just a physical body. It reminds me that the God of heaven and earth – that is not tangible – put on a shell of a physical body to rescue me and you and remind us the greatest thing on earth is not physical, but spiritual. This is humbling as a doctor. I treat the physical body pretty well with medicines, but how do I handle an eternal soul? Recently I saw MercyMed and Highland Community Church come together and handle a soul well. I pray for many more stories like these.
I was asked a couple of times by staff to do a house visit on a patient that lives in our neighborhood. I knew the patient already – I had walked through the house before, but it was not to see him. I knew also he lived less than a three minute walk from the clinic, but he could never make the appointments because he could not walk three minutes – or three yards without getting short of breath. So after many requests for a house visit, Anita, my 12 year old, myself and a few staff went down to check on him.
We met the family on the porch and talked for a few minutes. Really, I did not want to walk inside. I knew a little what I was walking into and I was not sure if bringing Anita was the best idea. Finally we stepped on the plywood floor in a dimly lit room. It took my eyes a second to adjust to realize he was naked on the bed, with sheets barely covering the important parts. I tried to shield Anita as I walked in, greeted him, and pulled the sheet up a little more all at the same time. As I was doing this, I noticed an oxygen tank, cigarettes, a lighter, and 3-4 live roaches on the bedside table. To be honest that sounded like a bad combination for the roaches.
He was a shell of a man. Bones pushed through his skin. He had no fat. He had used all his energy just to breath and he now had no reserve left. He had oxygen in his nose and after every 3-4 sentences he was so short of breath, he turned on a nebulizing machine – which delivered medicine to help him breathe easier so he can say a few more words. He never left his bed. If he tried, I think he would have died. It took all he had to breathe just lying there.
Finally I walked out. As the doctor, I had to make sure the family knew he would not be here long. It was met with mixed response and then Anita and I went to get ice cream. Job done.
Well, not really. The next week I heard some of the staff went down to his house with guitar in hand and sang hymns and a few Elvis songs. While I was watching his breathing, I really did not hear what he was saying. They reminded me – he loved music. His son, he told us, could sing just like Elvis. And they decided music would be good medicine for the soul. As music filled the air, I do believe the aroma of Christ filled the air as well. I am grateful for staff that listens to the soul while I am listening through a stethoscope.
A few days later, his shortness of breath was more than he could handle so the ambulance was called again and he was brought to the hospital. I was actually working that night in the hospital so I knew when he came into the ER. Shortly after his arrival, I saw Rob, pastor of Highland Community Church, walk into his room. Highland is a church behind our clinic that lives out the gospel in this poor neighborhood. MercyMed is so grateful to have them ministering right behind us.
I was not sure what they talked about, but Rob texted me afterwards and wanted to know if I needed a cup of coffee. I sure like that guy.
I finally went in to admit my friend for shortness of breath. I again saw some real physical problems, he needed immediate medicines. I almost had to admit him to the ICU, but after a few more treatments, I thought he was a little better. I again reminded the family that he would not be here long. And then he was transferred to his room. Later I heard what happened. The patient’s wife called the guitar playing Elvis impersonator to see if he knew someone the patient could talk to about spiritual things. Rob showed up. They talked about Jesus, the best medicine ever. While lying in the ER bed, waiting for medicine, trying to catch one breath after another, he accepted Jesus as His Savior. His life expectancy on earth is very short, but with Christ as his Lord, he will now live forever. He has been snatched from the hands of hell and now bound for heaven where he will be able to walk more than a few steps – he will be able to run with ease.
What is the meaning of Christmas? It is the fact that Jesus came into this world to rescue people – sinners. And then He tells guitar playing Elvis impersonating sinners to go out and rescue others. The best medicine this Christmas is not a pill, it is the sweet presence of Christ bringing you from life to death. The greatest miracle is making dead things come to life and this is what the Great Physician specializes in. Do you know him? The intangible became tangible – He was born as a baby. His name was Jesus. He makes dead things come to life.