A doctor scrubbing up in hospital

It has been a crazy night. The surgeon has been on call all night, and has performed three tedious operations before sunrise. Now, right when he was enjoying a quick cup of coffee and breakfast sandwich, his beeper goes off again. Another emergency. Another call for surgery. As is his custom, he hurries to the OR, but this time, “just this once”, he bypasses the all-important, cardinal rule of thoroughly scrubbing in before entering the room and starting to do his job. Surely his hands are clean enough from the other scrubbings they have endured during the night. Besides, my patient needs me now, this is life and death.

Yes, the patient needed him, and yes, his hands were pretty clean – compared to most of us. But this night, they were not clean enough. His patient survived the operation only to contract an infection that eventually took his life. In the weeks and months that followed, the doctor not only had to spend hours of his time meeting with hospital administration, lawyers and family members of the deceased patient – he had to face the mental anguish, guilt and pain of knowing that his patient didn’t survive because of the choices he made.

He had always taken the time to thoroughly scrub-in before surgery. Was he too tired? Was he overworked? Was it really the hospital’s fault for making him work such long hours? His mind reeled with thoughts, accusations and rationalizations. But in the end, it was determined that it was his negligence that caused the infection and subsequent death of his patient. Consequences – reputation and credibility tarnished, financial loss, lost esteem by administration and staff, not to mention the emotional scar of living with the knowledge that a family is devastated because of his actions.

None of us really enjoy rules. From childhood forward we seem to resent having to learn them and follow them. We would rather make our own rules, or try to live with no rules at all. But in reality, God is a God of rules. He is a God of order, and our lives, as well as the universe around us,are held together by rules. In God’s economy rules are put in place for our own good. Gravity is a rule created by Him that literally holds the world in place. The laws of physics, math and science, as well as our moral and social laws were all initially created by Him to operate our bodies, our families, our societies in accordance with His divine plan. They are put in place for our good, not harm. The limitations imposed by them are divinely inspired to lead us on good paths and keep us from harmful, damaging, and even disastrous consequences. They are set in place by a God Who loves us dearly and wants only our good.

We can ignore His rules, or we can choose to obey or disobey them – but we can’t ignore them. Cause and effect. If we ignore gravity and jump off the roof – we will fall (every time) and most likely hurt ourselves. If we don’t take care of our bodies, they will weaken and we will suffer the consequences. If we choose to live in sin and depravity, we will reap the consequences of our actions. If we treat our wife with harshness and insensitivity, we will live in a cold, contentious home. Just like the surgeon, we get to choose. We can opt out, or we can live deliberately, choosing to know and follow the rules set in place by a loving, caring, wise Father.

God’s instruction book is full of amazing rules for enjoying a glorious marriage relationship. As has been said, we can choose to live as if they don’t exist (ignore them), accept the fact that they do exist but decide we don’t like them (or some of them) and therefore choose not to obey them – or we can choose to embrace them, and walk in relationship with their Author, asking for His daily, continual wisdom, power and grace to walk in them. He has promised that those who make such decisions will be blessed beyond measure.

Do we really want to enjoy a wonderfully fulfilling marriage? Why not go back to the Rule Maker and the Rule Book, and begin to make choices that will insure such an outcome?

Surgeons – wash your hands.