I visited my friend Helen (name changed to protect the innocent!) in her workplace recently ? the ante-natal clinic at the local hospital where she is a team manager and patient consultant.
I was there to drop off some resources for her home group including the DVD, Life on the Frontline – and what a frontline she has!
I was thinking that I would pop in, find out where Helen?s office was, sit down and have a cuppa and a quiet chat about the joys of working in an ante-natal clinic for half an hour or so.
But that was not what happened!? As I rounded the corner (being careful not to head left to the gynecological clinic), I was confronted with expectant women and bemused husbands on all sides.?
People were lined up at reception to check in for their appointments, make their next appointment or furtively drop of a small brown paper bag (I suspect the latter was some form of graft to get a more convenient appointment time!
As I looked around to see if I could spot Helen, give her the goodies, and then quickly make my escape, I noticed that there were many more husbands and pregnant wives sitting, waiting for their turn to enter one of the myriad of consultation rooms to the left and the right.? Everyone seemed contented enough to watch the large screen featuring advice on how to bring up the future offspring while waiting for their number to be called.? Orderly queuing is now a ubiquitous feature of contemporary customer service isn’t it?
Well, it was all too much for me.? I apologetically and carefully pushed in between two pregnant ladies and asked the receptionist if I could leave some materials for Helen and then made my exit as quickly as possible ? there was just too much progesterone and oestrogen in the air (I checked that on Google).
As I drove back home though, I reflected on Helen?s frontline:
- An incredibly busy place where time is measured and allocated but also a place where people want to be listened to and their concerns heard.? I wondered how Helen manages to balance those sometimes conflicting demands.
- A place filled with mixed emotions I imagine ? joy and anticipation sure, but also, no doubt, anxiety and occasional deep sorrow.? I wondered how Helen journeys with couples awaiting the most momentous event of their lives and how her faith sustains and equips her in these circumstances.
- ?And I noticed all the staff coming and going ? fellow consultants, receptionists, doctors, nurses, warders etc.? I wondered how Helen finds the time (and energy) to fulfil her managerial responsibilities in that environment with the office politics that no doubt frustrate and perplex even the most capable person.
And then I remembered that God is in the business of popping up in unexpected places ? he did that ultimately in Jesus of course.? He arrived when no one was really looking, in a place that very few were expecting.? And in doing so, he started meeting the conflicting needs of those around him, started journeying with people in their darkest hours while carefully discipling an odd bunch of blokes who would be entrusted with the task of carrying on after he left, discipling others.
So I prayed for Helen, that God might keep popping into her frontline in ways that surprise and excite her as she seeks to work for him on her frontline.? I also hope and pray that Helen finds and knows the support of fellow Christians who appreciate the challenges of her frontline and see the strategic ministry opportunities that surround her every day.?
?Lord, may your kingdom come, may your will be done, day by day, hour by hour, interview by interview, patient by patient on Helen?s frontline. Even for those she interacts with who do not know or care about you Lord, may your kingdom values break through in unexpected ways. Amen?
Murray Wright (August 27, 2013)?