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Window of Opportunity

Todd Guthrie
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A window of opportunity exists whenever someone is willing to listen to what we want to share. How do we maximize that opportunity? Marketers seek to engage us for 15 minutes to save us 15 percent, where God uses windows of opportunity to save souls. The next 15 minutes could be our last opportunity. How can we best utilize that limited time? From his own experience, Todd will tell the story of such a window of opportunity. 

Presenter

Todd Guthrie

Orthopedic Surgeon, Mt. Shasta, California

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Conference

Recorded

  • August 3, 2017
    9:00 AM

Series

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The last hour. A window of opportunity. This phrase ‘the last hour’ brings a certain sense of urgency, of finality. And yet, in Earth's last hour, there is a window of opportunity for God to work. 

This earth is certainly in its last hour. And because of this, more and more people are literally in their last hour. The world's coming apart. There's bloodshed, there's conflict. And in this world of uncertainty and danger, we do not know when our last hour might be. What do we want to do in Earth's last hour?

I'm a physician. So, news reports like the ones we have had recently, cut close to home. Just last week, there was a physician that was killed because he refused to prescribe pain pills to the wife of the killer. 

A few years ago, this incident happened [referring to slide]. So, in health care we seem to think that because we're helping people we’re somehow immune from these dangers, but we're not. Do you ever wonder what would be most important in your last hour? In the last hour the mind clears. Life compresses and distills as to what's most important. 

I met a man I’ll call Adam in my office for a routine visit. He had excruciating hip pain and his x-ray showed why. It looked terrible. He needed a hip replacement. 

Well, I'm an orthopedic surgeon. I enjoy doing hip replacements and helping people. So I was happy to help him. He also had some problems with his feet. He had some congenital problems that made his balance an issue for him. So he was concerned about his rehabilitation after surgery. He wanted to make sure that he went to a particular rehab facility so he could get his balance and get the services he needed when he was discharged from the hospital. 

So we had the usual discussion. We prayed together as is my practice when patients like that before we proceed with surgery.

And his surgery went well. It went very well. In fact, his new hip looked great. 

But something strange happened when he got to his room after surgery. It's like he decompensated. The stress, the thought of ‘can I get what I need,’ this self-focus, turned into lashing out at other people. This is what he did under stress. And I did know that at the time. He began to give the nurses a hard time. I got reports of him throwing things and swearing and things just went from bad to worse. He was acting out his fears and creating a disaster for himself. 

So what does a good physician do? I ordered some medication to calm him down. And it was so effective that when I got to his room a few hours later (I was in surgery and got to his room), he was up in a chair. And he was sleeping in the chair. So I didn't want to bother him because. This was a stressful situation and I didn't want to wake him up and have him swear at me. But when he woke up again he continued to alienate everyone around him. 

Unfortunately the nurses that work at the hospital also do part-time at the rehab facility. And this was a problem because the words soon got to this place and they wanted nothing to do with this man at that rehab facility. But he refused to go to any other option. So what ended up happening was, our physician assistant discharged him to home, and put him on the doorstep of the hospital. I think it was snowing at the time. And his estranged, not surprisingly estranged wife took him home. And I thought well OK, that's OK.

But then the phone calls began. He had a few falls at home and it was my fault. I had abandoned him, I left him to suffer. He'd swear at me on the phone, swear at my staff. He was going to sue me. It’s a wonderful thought as a physician!

Well, he did agree to come back for a visit. As a physician, I have a responsibility to make sure he's doing OK, and he did agree to come back. But my thought was, doing this is going to be quite risky. These reports of physicians being offed by their patients are not comforting. What risk was I taking in even letting him come into the office?

Well, in the last days and hours preceding his visit, I started to think, I'm a Christian physician. I'm here to minister to my patients. How do I deal with this situation? Didn’t this man create his own disaster? What's my responsibility in this situation? Could this in any way be my fault or my responsibility? How could I handle the risk and the danger?

Well, my mind went in an interesting direction as I pondered these questions. The approach of the last hour had a clarifying effect on my thoughts. I needed a new way of thinking, a new way of seeing this problem with Adam. I needed a metanoia, as it says in the original language: a change of mind. 

So. I thought, only with Heaven's help can I have this paradigm shift that I need. And the Word of God provides us the paradigm shift that we need in Earth's last hour, to deal with the danger and the stress that we face. We read in 2 Corinthians 5:14-16, “For the love of Christ compels us because we judge thus, that if one died for all then all died, and he died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh.”

Seeing that Christ's death was a representative death put me on equal footing with Adam. In this sense, his sin was my sin. We share the same human nature. I have the same weaknesses he does. Have I ever lashed out at someone when I'm under stress? 

Not only that; I was compelled, according to this text, by the love of God in Christ to repent myself for not ministering this Gospel to him. I needed the gift of heavenly repentance in order to effectively minister to Adam. 

Here's how Ellen White puts it: “Repentance represents the process by which the soul seeks to reflect the image of Christ to the world.” For me that was a mind-altering thought. And my prayer is that it might be for us collectively as well. 

Well, how could actual reconciliation with Adam occur? How much of this was my responsibility, how much of this was his responsibility? Did I need to hold him on the, to account for what his behavior was? How did this actually work out in practical ways?

So as I thought about this, I read further down in 2 Corinthians chapter five, “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” Here's what it looks like: “That is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and is committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us. We implore you, on Christ behalf, be reconciled to God.”

In this wonderful glorious act God has gifted us with the ministry of reconciliation; this is his promise, especially in what could be--or is--our last hour. I saw that I did not have to hold Adam's transgressions against him. In fact, my not doing so was the key to our reconciliation. 

But more than that, I wanted Adam to actually be restored. I wanted his mind, HIS mind, to actually have a change. Could he be restored to a better way of thinking and living? I found that my fear was relieved by focusing on what he needed. As I interceded with heaven on Adam's behalf, my focus became clear. 

But I would need resources that I don't possess to help Adam. But here was my hope: we—I--do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with my weakness, but he was in all points tempted like as I am, yet without sin; therefore I could come boldly to the throne of grace that I could obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of Adam's need. 

I have a High Priest interceding for me. I could boldly ask for the gift of His restoring power on behalf of Adam, because He's the second Adam. And He already has done the work to reconcile the first Adam and complete that restoration. 

Well, it came down to the literal last hour. Do you want to know what happened? I had arranged, in my weakness, to have a sheriff's deputy in the office--but out of sight to Adam, because I didn't want to stress Adam out. That would be the wrong trigger for Adam. But I did have a responsibility, actually, to protect my staff, in case Adam brought something. 

But I would still have to go into the room alone and there will be a moment where Adam and I would have to interact, one on one. 

But I saw that the confrontation that we were facing, potentially facing, was primarily a spiritual one, because “we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against the rulers of darkness, the spiritual hosts of wickedness” as it says in Ephesians six twelve. So I needed to apply the mighty weapons of the gospel to pull down the strongholds that were holding Adam in place, the strongholds that are mentioned in 2 Corinthians 10:4. 

Well, here's what I did. I walked in the room. Adam said, “Doc, we need to talk.” 

I said, “Yes we do. Let me start. Adam, I want to ask your forgiveness. You were in great need, you were under stress, and I didn't come and minister to you. And for that I ask your forgiveness. 

I had had another patient bring me some thank-you gifts, some food—some olives and eggs, doesn't matter what it was--but I asked him, “Hey, would you like these things?” And I gave him some gifts. And we experienced reconciliation at that moment. 

And then I asked again at the end of the visit, “Can I pray for you?” And he said yes. But he said, “I want you to intercede for me with my family, with my wife, these people I’ve estranged. Would you call them?”

So I agreed to do that. And I did call them later. I found out that the reconciliation with his family was already occurring. The Gospel of Jesus Christ, applied was indeed the power of God. 

So, in my last hour, what would I want to do? Like Daniel, I would repent on behalf of the Body of Christ, the church. I would repent of not doing more for others, of not believing and living the Gospel that transforms lives. I would accept my identity truly with Christ who has identified His humanity with me, as He gives me the gift of repentance which He exercised on behalf of the race.

In my last hour, I would want to help someone else reconcile with God and others, believing the initiative that God is taking with me and applying that as a reconciling force in the world.

In my last hour, I would intercede to see people and relationships restored. I can trust my intercessor to restore all things. He will restore my life if I lose it for his sake.

I pray he will use me to heal and restore the relationships of those around me, and it's my prayer in this last hour of earth’s history that we can all experience this power of God's love revealed in the cross, to cast out all fear so that we can become effective ambassadors for Christ. Our message will be that God has already reconciled each and every member of the human race to Himself through Christ, that our simple yet powerful call to each one He has called, “Be reconciled!”

This media was produced by Audioverse for ASI: Adventist Layman's Services and Industries. If you would like to learn more about ASI, please visit www.asiministries.org. Or if you would like to listen to more free online sermons, please visit www.audioverse.org.

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