The first phone call I made this afternoon began like this: “Hello, doctor’s office, I need to check on a test I must have for my appointment next week. I was under the impression you were to call me…”Oh, no the hospital is supposed to call you. I’ll send them the paperwork again but here’s the number. Go ahead and call them to set it up.”
Here’s how the second call went:
“Hello diagnostics department, I need to have a test done in time for my next doctor’s appointment. “We only deal with the referring physician’s office.” “I’m sorry, but something happened to the paperwork. I do have the codes in front of me.” “Well, ok. I gave her the codes and stumbled over the unfamiliar medical terminology. She said, “See, this is why we only deal with the doctor’s office, because patients don’t understand their diagnosis.”
To which I pulled the trump card in my hand, the golden card I have carried and used at will for the last 20 years. “I’m sorry, I, too, am a doctor. Just a different kind. I’ve never seen the word before.” She put me on hold at this point (during which time I am sure she called the doctor’s office to verify the test), I got my appointment, hung up the phone and grinned ruefully.
You see, I was thinking about paradoxes in the Kingdom of God this morning, turning my mind back to the Sermon on the Mount. But while my ear was on hold my heart caught hold of a kingdom paradox: just because I carry a golden card doesn’t mean I have to play it.
I don’t play my Ph.D. card very often, but in moments when I feel that I am not being treated with respect, I can pull it out with lightning speed. “Trumped you!” (Or, in the vernacular of my own card playing childhood, “Rook!”)
In the single moment I was put on hold my heart grasped the Kingdom paradox of having a golden card and not playing it. Of making the Spirit-led choice to engage the battle with charity rather than falling back on status to protect myself.
This choice to hold my golden card close does not mean I think of less of the person God has made me to be. Like Lewis says, “better to stop thinking about yourself at all.” To play by the rules of love and mutual respect means I can choose to leave that golden card in my hand, available in its proper time and place, but not used to dominate and control the messy world around me. Ouch. Yes. Amen.
Kingdom Paradox: Blessed are the poor in spirit. For this highly educated American, it begins with choosing not to play my hand, even when I could. May Jesus’ voice be speaking, his silence keeping, echo in my Kingdom longing heart.