Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Longest Year

This morning I walked into the hospital as an intern and this evening walked out a resident. I guess I didn't think I'd feel anything but the usual exhaustion after a long call day on the wards but I was surprised by the sense of a monumental task having been completed. This year has been perhaps the hardest year of my life. Feelings of frustration and anxiety about notes, assessments, procedures or presentations which could have gone better have frequently been my chief emotions. I remember calling one of my best friends in the first few months of this year and telling him I didn't think I could do it. Many things have been neglected, including this blog, in the past year. In spite of all this the one reality undimmed is the reality of Christ and His gospel.

God has provided for me abundantly this year. During some of the hardest times of internship it was only meditating on Christ and His Death and Resurrection which gave perseverance. I know that this meditation on Christ comes only by the grace of God and not from some innate good within myself. I've been reminded of this by seeing temptation and sin rear its ugly head to a disappointing degree this year. I could look at my life and become discouraged and despair but in the words of John Newton I remember two things, "That I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior." Seeing that God has given me the grace to know this, to believe the Gospel and to know the Person of Christ, is the only wellspring of joy which can be taken away by no disappointments or failures in life.

God has provided for me in His holy catholic Church. Two churches in particular have kept me fed with the Word of the Gospel preached and the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ broken. These are Hockinson Apostolic Lutheran Church and St. James Anglican Church. If most people, whether Christian or not, were to observe these two churches in their respective worship services they might see little in common. But one thing is held in common by the two, Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, is preached. I am directed toward the objective reality of Christ, and what was done by Him, outside of me, on the cross. All of heaven is mine because of Jesus and his shed blood in atonement for my sins and the sins of the whole world. This year has often brought me to my knees - literally, but one of the many things I am thankful for is that I've been reminded again and again that I have nothing to offer God. And yet amazingly, in spite of this, in spite of my sin and frequent failings, I am convinced by the Word of God that I should have an unshakable hope and joy in Christ and His shed blood, and nothing else.

Things aren't going to get any easier. Many say that the second year of residency is actually more challenging. But I do believe that God will continue to provide, encourage and discipline as He has thus far.

Still the small inward voice I hear,
That whispers all my sins forgiven;
Still the atoning blood is near,
That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.

-C. Wesley