I recently learned that a patient that I was treating 2 times a week for 6 weeks was an Atheist.
It happened rather quickly—I called to let him know that I was leaving that clinic and wanted to let him know he was going to be seeing another therapist for the remainder of his care. He asked me why I was leaving and I stated it was because my husband, a pastor, was being transferred to Florida. He replied with “Oh, that’s nice. I’m an atheist.”
He quickly continued to defend his position. “I can’t believe in a god that allows young kids to kill kids.” He related experiences he had with other Christian believers attempting to change his position. He also told me that he had once been a Christian but at some point, he just couldn’t take the suffering he was witnessing and decided to become atheist.
After having a long and difficult day, I found myself growing irritated that I only had 5 minutes left to document and get the next patient in and this other patient on the phone was continually talking and despite my nodding and “mmhmms” he just continued.
I have to confide with you that this was not my finest hour. This was not me being the Christian example that I thought I was. A clear opportunity had been given to me the chance to share my love for Jesus and the love that Jesus had for him. I had blown it.
You know those really clear times when you have a distinct sign from God telling you to go a certain way and you still pick the path you believe is the “best” way? That was me. I was stressing the importance of duty more than stressing the importance of people and this was not the first time. I am a chronic culprit of this truth, picking things and work that I am stressed about and pushing Jesus aside because in my mind I don’t think there is enough time and become reactive in my choices instead of proactive.
We hung up the phone and as soon as I had closed it I felt remorseful. I wasn’t able to focus on my next patient thinking about how I should have responded and taken the time to listen. I was beating myself up for caring so much about productivity for a job that I was leaving anyways.
In my reflection I asked myself, “What would I have said? I don’t remember the different arguments and points on God’s not dead so I can’t go with that route. Neither do I know all the creation science proof to show the existence of God.”
Before I could punish myself for another mistake, the Holy Spirit was gracious in reminding me about a little conversation that this patient and I once had. Not because of anything that I had done, but all because of the love God had for this person, God reminded me about The Christmas Chronicles. This patient of mine loved Christmas.
He chuckled a bit whilst shaking his head after I had accused the little girl in the movie if causing all the problems. “You’re right about that,” he responded “but remember in the movie there was only one name in their entire family tree that wasn’t listed. What if Santa went through all that trouble just for Teddy?”
This moment was pure gold! Mah dude was talkin’ ‘bout the gospel! This memory so clearly and obviously spoke the story of the gospel of Jesus.
Through this experience I have learned that God can use me even though I so frequently push God aside. I have learned that there is a little piece of the gospel embedded in folklore and stories sprinkled by God Himself and if we are attentive we can hear and see Him.
I have since then written a letter to my patient, but I haven’t sent it yet. It’s not as good as expressing this story to him face to face or over the phone but the Holy Spirit continues to hold me accountable for this one person. I hope that in your prayers you can pray for this patient of mine and for this letter so it can be a little stepping stone and a little imprint in the overall comeback story of this beautiful soul whom Jesus loves.