An example from art and ophthalmology
Medical students frequently attend my clinics. Part of their time with me includes observation in the operating room where they will watch cataract surgery. Residents are those who have graduated from medical school. If you are unfamiliar with the process, you likely will ascribe far too many skills and abilities to the person who has an M.D. degree. They have a name, but they do not have maturity. For that matter, they do not have many skills.
When I was a first or second-year medical student, I sprained my ankle playing basketball. Was it broken? That was my worry. Not wanting to go to the Emergency Room I concluded that having the senior medical student who lived in my apartment complex examine me. When I became a senior medical student, I realized how ineffective that event was. I don’t think I went to the ER. I guess the senior medical student was right: sprain, not break. It healed without any special treatments.
See residency is all about the acquisition of skills. When a trainee like a resident finally arrives at the point of doing cataract surgery they have observed case after case. Watching one who is adept at removing cataracts makes it look easy. Then they try. Gulp! Not easy! Now when I see them coming to the point of these surgeries, I have a good sense that it won’t be easy for them. There are many, many techniques involved some quite subtle; subtle, but critical.
In the teaching process, I will make drawings, and I will make videos. When I first begin an illustration of a specific step, it comes out poorly. I may not have any sense of how to draw what I do, much less to convey it to another’s brain with drawings. So I work at it. Little by little the picture gets closer and closer to my intention. Eventually, sometimes rather suddenly, that drawing shows up that “works.” It is that set of lines, shading, perspective that conveys exactly the thing I wish it to convey. My intentions and the drawing coincide, and my brain says, “Yeah. Perfect.” It did not know how it looked on the way to this place. It just knew there was a place it needed to be.
The way we need to be
When the Christian sees Jesus that type of thing is going to happen. All the blood, sweat, and tears we have poured into trying to match our life with that of Christ will become plain. We will not be left with the dust of disenchantment, but a living statue of Christlikeness.
After finishing my prison clinic the week of this lesson, I went to a newish Starbucks in the growing city of Grovetown, Georgia. God dumped me and another fellow, eventually two fellows, into a long conversation. We found the dialogue to wind from computer programming to careers to church. One of the themes that simmered was money=success. The simmering of this theme never got to a boil and indeed always felt a little off-base. One of the two guys suggested that maybe the goal should be to get rich and then spend time with one’s family. I could tell he was not convinced by his own words. “I bet when you spend all those years building wealth you will have to spend your later years managing it.” He said this not boisterously or as if he was on a soapbox. I could see that he was pondering out loud.
One of my replies to this pseudo-theme was, “If you do that you miss your family.” See they grow up. He understood this hardly needed me to state it. He was in a pondering phase. I guess I could say that we were in a pondering phase.
Another part of my reply was to say that I had set the course of my life along God’s pathway. As I have grown older, I have seen that the things I wanted or have desired have been given to me. The aim of life toward God’s goals has turned out to be just what I needed. It is like the effort at illustrating cataract surgery. The how is hard to imagine, but the attempt at it leads to the “Aha! Yes. Perfect. It works.”