A bit of background: The medical facility where I serve houses more than ten clinics offering care for both adult and pediatric patients. And while the building is filled with a variety of different providers every day, there is one constant: the complex software that everyone uses to serve our patients, ironically named EPIC.
Within EPIC, each clinic has a "context." And within the realm of each specific context, you will find provider scheduling templates as well as appointment type options unique to that clinic. If you are into analogies, think Context is to Epic as Galaxy is to Universe.
What that means for us as Senior Patient Service Specialists is that we change the "context" all day long as we check in and check out patients and schedule appointments. In fact, it's not uncommon to jump from the context of Orthopaedic Spine to OBGYN to Pediatric Gastroenterology to US Radiology to Sports Medicine to CT Radiology to Pediatric Rheumatology all within a busy hour.
If during the scheduling process, you cannot find a certain provider's template, a specific appointment type, or a particular facility, it is usually because you are trying to operate in the wrong context. And if you find yourself in that predicament, the only way out is to click a button on the toolbar called, "Change Context." As I have told those with whom I have had the privilege of peer mentoring, "'Context' is Everything."
And now, the rest of the story: Over the eight months that our building has been open, we have grown exponentially. With that extraordinary increase has come understandable growing pains, particularly with the myriad of side tasks that have to be completed in between patient encounters. Recently, after a week of feeling pressure to seemingly "make bricks without straw," I found myself operating in my own context. Three of them, actually: Grumpy, Agitated, and Resentful.
Drowning in cynicism about my job as I sat in church that following Sunday, God threw me a lifeline through a guest pastor who made the statement, "Jesus always ministered in the context of love." Had I not been dealing with the term "context" for the last eight months, I probably would not have given that statement a second thought beyond an acquiescing nod. But that day, that particular word breached a self-constructed dam, releasing a deluge of grace that began to seep into the desert of my thinking.
"Son, context is everything." Humored by God's audacity to spin my own words, I leaned my heart in further to listen to what the Spirit was speaking. "It's time to move the cursor of your heart up to the toolbar of My grace and change your context to Love. My Love. And in that context, I will be your Provider and I will schedule divine appointments."
With gentle words of counsel, He tenderly continued, "When you operate in the context of My love, people you encounter will become My opportunities to love, as you speak My words of sustaining grace. No more seeing others as interruptions... only invitations to love. No more squandering away time in small talk... only investing in relationship building. No more resisting encounter... only embracing interaction. No more speaking at... only talking with. No more reacting to angry people... only responding to hurting people. Child, your 'context' for living is Love." Selah.
As that word began to soak into the dry soil of my soul, three stories in the Scriptures came to mind. Remember when Mary and Martha's brother Lazarus had passed? Though all of the circumstances screamed "divine negligence," Jesus ministered in the context of Love. “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus” [John 11:5 ESV]. And when the man, dogged by a life of "try harder" and "do better" comes to Jesus, he encounters a reality check of Love. “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him..." [Mark 10:21 ESV]. And even in the last days of His life, Jesus's servant heart of Love was vividly demonstrated. “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” [John 13:1 ESV].
As I reflected on each of those encounters, God's kindness led me to repentance. I melted into the Everlasting Arms of Love journaling, "God, thank You that there is nothing I can do that would make You love me more... and thank You that there is nothing that I can do that would make You love me less. Yet, I am so mindful of the fact that I have not loved others as lavishly as You have loved me. I've been operating in contexts that have left me mired in relational snafus. Romans 5:5 says that we can experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Flood my heart with Your love. Like You did in Mark 10, Jesus, enable me to truly look at people, love them with Your love... and then speak out of the overflow of that love. And, Jesus... if you can "love them to the end" of Your life, certainly, You can enable me to "love them to the end" of my shift."
"So, right now, God, I choose to change my operating context to Love. Give me a Spirit-instructed tongue to know the word that sustains the weary. Allow people to experience Your love through me. And if, as You say, "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God," may I be a vessel through whom people come to know and experience the glory of your goodness. Amen."
Perhaps as you have been reading, you recognize that you have been operating in contexts that have left you snagged in your relationships. I invite you to take a moment and exhale. Release the stress of striving. And now, inhale. Receive God's empowering grace to live in the context of Love. And if you don't have the words, perhaps the prayers of this Babbie Mason song, "Show Me How to Love" will give you fresh vocabulary to articulate your heart to God. Indeed, context is everything.
May we see those we encounter as invitations to love rather than interruptions to the accomplishment of our tasks. May we embrace interaction as relationship-building rather than resisting it as time-squandering small talk. And may we live in grace-empowered resilience, pre-disposed to forgive and pre-determined to live in the context of Love. Amen.
If you want to explore further about being a vessel of God's glory, I invite you to listen to this sermon entitled, "God's Glory through You." Based on Habakkuk 2:14, this 45-minute message shares one of the ways how "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God."
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