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Thinking of God

When we’re sick, we should go to the doctor

    My friend Alan Smith relates a story that supposedly took place on an ocean liner sometime in the middle of the last century. Seated in one of the ship’s dining rooms, comedic/dramatic actress Billie Burke (whose film credits involve some 88 titles from 1916 to 1960, including the 1937 “Topper” series) noticed another passenger who seemed to be suffering from severe head congestion. She asked him if he was feeling ill, to which he replied he was.
    “I'll tell you just what to do about it,” she said. “Go back to your room and drink lots of orange juice. Take two aspirins. Cover yourself with all the blankets you can find. Sweat the cold out. I know just what I'm talking about. I'm Billie Burke from Hollywood.” The man smiled and thanked her, and then added, “By the way, I'm Dr. Mayo from the Mayo Clinic.”
    I don’t know which of the two famous physician brothers was on that ocean voyage. Both William James and Charles Horace, founders of the Mayo Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota, and pioneers of medical group practice, were literally “legends in their own time.” I’m sure Ms. Burke meant well in her prescriptive recommendations. However, it’s sort of like me trying to give Neil Armstrong advice on how to fly to the moon!
    There are lots of places to get advice. In fact, about all you have to do is let someone know you want or need to do something, and you’re likely to get more advice than you need. Of course, as the ship-board story demonstrates, not all counsel needs to be treated the same. As my friend Alan said, when it comes to medical matters, I would prefer to take the advice of an esteemed doctor over that of a famous actress. For all of us, the willingness to seek advice when we’re uninformed or uncertain is important. No one knows everything about everything. And when it the concern is truly important - like a medical need - we need to look for the best.
    The same is true in spiritual needs. (You knew I was headed there, didn’t you?!) The Bible says that the discerning man is willing to seek and accept good advice to order to realize spiritual goals. Solomon, the wisest man ever, said “Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.” (Proverbs 19:20) Solomon’s son Rehoboam ruined a nation because of his refusal to accept wise counsel. (1 Kings 12) O, he took advice alright, but the wrong advice. Like others, he was accepted the counsel of those who agreed with him. The “rich, young ruler” refused to follow the instruction of the Master Counselor to secure his eternal salvation by ridding himself of his possessions and becoming his follower. (Matthew 19:16-22)
    Life is filled with choices. Some are easy; others are really difficult. We need to give ourselves the best opportunity to make the right choice by going to those who have proven themselves to be the wisest. Jesus has and does offer that proof.

    Larry Sheehy is an elder and pulpit minister at Statesboro Church of Christ. He can be reached at (912) 764-5269.

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