Our 'Dream' Ski Vacation

don't know how you feel about it, but I personally don't consider three successive visits to a hospital to constitute a dream ski vacation.  By the morning of our third day in Vail, as we headed to the hospital for yet the third time, I was moping, big-time: "What kind of ski trip is this?" 

Not that there was much wasted cost or anything. A dear friend at church had let us use her timeshare; so it was a wonderfully affordable "luxury" for us. 

But I had cut my leg a few days before we departed and, throughout the long drive out to Colorado, the cut didn't heal; in fact, it started feeling worse.  

On the very first night of our arrival, there I was in the ER at the Vail Valley Medical Center, poked with an IV for a staph infection. "You're going to have to stay overnight," the young doctor insisted. "No no," I protested, "I'm going skiin'! I'm not spending it in a hospital!" 

"If you want that leg, you are," he countered. 

Well, it was a 12-hr IV, so I finally finagled them into letting me take it back to our condo for the night. The next morning, I was back at the hospital for a second dose.  The first one had worked so well, however, that pills were sufficient for the rest of the week, so I was on the mend. 

On the third day, I was doing fine, dressed and ready and grabbing my skis when Sharilyn spoke up:  "I think I'd better go see a doctor, my throat is killing me." 

So, on day number three of the glorious ski vacation, there we were back at the hospital. There in the examining room, as we waited for a doctor to come in, I started questioning my God: "Lord, you gave us this wonderful vacation, for which I'm very thankful, but...don't we get to play? Why are we spending it here at the hospital?" 

A few seconds later, the answer to that question walked in. 

It was the same doctor we had seen Sunday night, and Monday morning: handsome, cool-looking young gen-x snow nazi, snow-tanned, ear-ring; you name it, he had it! Everybody skis in Vail; but especially the professionals. 

We joked a lot back and forth, as he checked out Sharilyn's throat. I asked if the hospital had a "two-for-one" discount. He joked back at Sharilyn: "You don't have strep throat. I'm so sorry to disappoint you."  Then he went on to explain that: he'd once had a patient who got angry with him because he told her it wasn't strep. That's when I came up with my brilliant idea: "What you need to do is keep an old positive swab handy; swab her throat with it and say 'yes, you're right. I think you are coming down with strep.'" 

We were all laughing at that idea when Sharilyn spoke up: "Isn't that wonderful talk for a pastor!"  

I hadn't told him I was a pastor yet. It didn't really seem to register when I did. He just kept talking with Sharilyn about her medications. 

But as we got up to leave, all of a sudden he said: "You're a pastor, huh?"

"Yes." I replied.

There was a long pause—an awkward pause—as he just sat there silently, and then, in a quiet tone: "I haven't prayed for seven months, ever since my wife walked out on me." 

Sharilyn and I were just stunned! We had no idea that was coming. We didn't know what to say. But, we didn't really have to; he just kept on talking. 

He had fallen in love with this beautiful girl and married her up in Montana. They had a beautiful wedding; a wonderful marriage; he loved her family. They went to church every week. He spoke of how happy it made him, every Sunday, to sit with her in worship at church. He spoke of how often he prayed and thanked God for her. 

And then things went wrong. One day she said it was over and left. He gave up his practice in Montana and moved to Vail; became angry with God and hadn't prayed since. 

I told him a few things and spoke up for God, and he listened with such an incredible openness. But, much more remarkable than that, I got to put my hand on his shoulder and pray for him: that God would show mercy, work a miracle in his life and restore him to happiness soon. 

When it was over, this cool, tanned, young snow-shredding doctor from Vail was crying, right there in his own office. He stood up and hugged us and thanked us for our time. 

I felt for all the world like the prisoner at Philippi. I mean: we were the patients, weren't we? 

Oh, not necessarily, dear ones! Not when our wonderful God is at work!  There is no doubt in our minds that that hospital during vacation time had been part of God's plan since the beginning of time... 

Remember how Paul put it when he described his own setbacks and trials? 

"I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel".  Phil 1: 12


Sunday! See ya there!                RAS

Honor and Defeat
Resist the Tyrant