By Stephanie Kelly
Just one more day. Just one more day, I kept telling myself as I made my way down a dusty path to the hospital entrance. It was still early morning, but I could feel the sun beating down on the back of my neck. My arms ached from the weight of the large box of medicine and other supplies I was carrying. It was the fifth and last day of a free medical project in a rural area of Nigeria, where other members of the Family International and I were assisting a team of volunteer doctors and other medical professionals. After four very long days on my feet and with little sleep, I was irritable and ready to go home. Walking past the long lines of people who had come for treatment—many having arrived before dawn—all I could think of was taking a shower and getting a good night’s sleep in my own bed. Just one more day. I can survive one more day.
Inside, while setting up for the doctors, I was oblivious to the looks of hope and expectancy in the eyes of mothers as they patiently held and comforted their sick children. I also didn’t notice the grateful smiles of patients who had been helped on previous days and had returned for further treatment. All I wanted was to get the day behind me. I rushed around flustered, hurried, annoyed. I knew what my job was, and I was going to do it. Just please, everyone, stay out of my way!
Lord, I prayed, my back is killing me, and my feet feel like they’ve been put through a meat grinder. Please, please make this day go quickly! … Where are the doctors? Their tardiness was putting a damper on my double-time mode of operation.
As I stepped outside to see if any of them were in sight, Jesus spoke to me in that ever so loving voice I often hear in my mind. Stephanie, what does it say in 1 Corinthians chapter 13?
Gulp! Without love, our good works are nothing, Lord, I answered.
Exactly! He said. You’re helping people physically, but they also need healing for their spirits. They need to see My love shining through you, and they need to feel it, too. You need to be My face and hands and feet, showing them My love. Without love, all your hard work and sacrifice are for nothing.
I was working long hours—“giving my body to be burned”—but I’d forgotten the most important thing (1 Corinthians 13:3). I’d forgotten to love those I was there to serve. Jesus, please forgive me, I prayed.
After that reminder from the Lord, everything seemed to change for the better. He helped me slow down and take time to connect with each patient.
A short while later, I noticed that the patients waiting for general surgery all looked scared or worried, so I grabbed a stack of tracts and passed them out, starting at the head of the line. The first man read the title out loud—“Why Worry? You Are in God’s Hands”—and everyone started laughing as they realized they weren’t just putting themselves in the doctors’ hands, but ultimately in God’s hands. Surely He could take care of the situation! I found myself laughing with them, and suddenly my back and feet didn’t hurt anymore. The sky seemed bluer, the heat not as intense. I wanted to both enjoy the day and spend every minute of it well, giving all I could to these people who had so little. Instead of wanting it to end as quickly as possible, I wanted it to last as long as possible so I could give as much love as the Lord had given me.