Chaplain Shelby Smith served at a local church for 19 years before joining Arkansas Heart Hospital. Here, he has the opportunity to meet the spiritual needs of patients, their families and our staff. In addition to offering prayer and encouragement, Chaplain Shelby Smith shares a weekly devotional.
The experiences of the past 18 months have squeezed us all. Suddenly, all the things we once called normal are no longer normal. There is a new normal, constantly changing, which is not normal.
What have the events of the last 18 months revealed to you about yourself? Have you found a need to readjust your thinking about things? About work? About security? About people? About your Faith? Feeling as if I was being squeezed these past 18 months, I have adjusted my thinking about several things. I have learned most of all that temporary things are just that – temporary.
I have noticed that as our society is being squeezed. It’s adjusting in areas we thought were solid and unchangeable. Unfortunately, we are seeing some changes that we do not like. Whether at home or work, personally or socially, change is squeezing us. This change is forcing us to take another look at who we are, what we do, and what is really important. This new pressure is not making us who we are, but revealing who we really are. The thought occurred to me that maybe I should be focusing more of my energy on eternal things – the things that will last forever.
Recently, I had a brief moment with a team member to express my sympathies for the passing of his father. I asked if there was anything we could do to provide assistance for him and his family during this time. He said, “No, I don’t think so. All is well and there is nothing we need. You know my dad planted a big tree.” It took me a minute to grasp what he meant by that, but I quickly concluded that his father had many family members, and because of his role in the community, he had an extended family that was waiting and ready to provide or meet any need identified.
Walking away from our conversation, my mind shifted to one of the last conversations I had with his dad. I remember he was sleeping when his wife gently squeezed his arm to wake him up. He immediately began quoting scripture:
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Ye, though I walk thru the valley of the shadow of death.
I will fear no evil, for you are with me ; your rod and your staff they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all of the days of my life
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Amen!”
After a brief conversation, he began to doze again. As I recall that morning, I think to myself of the beautiful fragrance emitted when he was squeezed. In other words, when his wife squeezed his arm, God’s word came out as the sweet aroma. Life was squeezing him, failing health was squeezing him, and the aroma was not bitterness, or anger or self-pity. What came out of him was the life giving and encouraging words of the Lord.
The team member I spoke with was right – his dad did plant a big tree. Symbolically, he is a mighty oak. Because of his commitment to faithful service to God and others, that mighty oak covered a lot of space, a lot of lives. When that oak got squeezed by life, what was important to him came out: the word of God.
There are so beneficiaries of this mighty oak in our community, around the state and around the country. And because this mighty oak was productive and fruitful, it produced seeds that are coming up all over the world. Because of what this oak is made up of, it will continue to provide shelter and shade for generations to come. You see, one man can make a difference.
Let me ask, when life squeezes you, is the fragrance life-giving or life-taking? Let’s pray about your answer!