Praying for a teachable moment


Chaplain Norris Burkes writes about how God handed him and a visiting pastor a teachable moment.

My chaplain’s office sits off a well-trafficked hallway inside the VA hospital in Sacramento, Calif. A large “Chaplain Service” sign hanging outside the door guides impromptu visitors into the suite.

Last week, a pastor entered to introduce himself as the spirit-filled “Brother So-and-So.” If you are unfamiliar with the adjective “spirit filled,” it means to embody the spirit of Christ. Or, loosely translated, it’s the charismatic next step after “born-again.”

Let me pause a moment to say, I have lots of wonderful charismatic friends. And most of them will tell you that if you are indeed filled with the Holy Spirit, there is no need to self-identify as such. If true, it will be obvious.

Suffice it to say, I was quickly wishing that Mr. Brother Pastor had kept walking the hall. But instead, the tall, broad and aging pastor sat down and proceeded to recite his resume….

…He then shifted the conversation into the many years he served as a pastor and the hospital visitations he did. He confessed that he pitied me because “we both know that government chaplains can’t talk about God as freely as a pastor.”

And somewhere in the midst of his pontification, he told me that he was praying that God would make him “teachable.” If he noticed the smirk that word “teachable” brought to my face, he didn’t say.

Instead, he abruptly assumed a crouching position and told me he was going to pray for me. That’s when I decided that I’d answer his prayer and offer him a teachable moment.

“Wait just a minute,” I said. “How do you know what to pray for?”

“Huh?” he asked.

Chaplain Burkes is board certified in the Association of Professional Chaplains.

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