(written March 2011)

When you examine it and boil it down to its fundamental essence, the essential element of the equation is trust. Without trust, there is no way that it would work. Maybe in the short term, but rarely in the long term would I make the effort to ensure that it happens. I am referring to one of the reasons we travel to the UK every year – to see my doctor and have a battery of health checks.

My doctor examines the results of my tests and if required, prescribes additional tests, where necessary, any medicine and advises on life-style issues that affect health. If I didn’t inherently trust my doctor, how could I accept his evaluation of the test results and what the appropriate responses should be?

Now, in the UK, the patient has a ‘say’ in his or her treatment regimen.

I find this odd.

My doctor has studied medicine – he has had a ‘practice’ for decades and as part of the National Health Service he is required to do additional study every year.

Comparatively, I know nothing. A few hours on the internet does not a knowledgeable correspondent make; in no wise, with mere hours of Internet study will I begin to compare even remotely to his study and years of experience.

Nevertheless he lays out the various options and asks me what I think.

What do I think?

I think I want to know what he recommends. He is the trained professional with years of experience.

And I trust him.

For instance, I am told that I have a ‘lipid’ issue. See, I have difficulty even in expressing what the problem is – what’s a lipid… Now, those of Scottish descent have a genetic disposition towards this difficulty with lipids. He offered to send me to a specialist clinic in London which would do all the tests and work to find the exact medicine that I need for my lipids. It would take months and I would attend there when they called me. Or, I could choice to go on the standard, tried and tested medicine for lipids. My choice.

Great.

But what, I pressed, is his recommendation? I can chose either. I am free. It is my choice. Fine. Okay. Good.

He confessed that he would just put me on the ‘tried and tested’ medicines and then check to make sure they were doing the job. That makes my choice easier. I trust my doctor. Both options are valid and good.

So, as in my Christian walk, if I really ‘trust’ God in my life, then making choices comes down to what does He say. If I trust Him, that makes it easier. Yes, I can choose – but who really knows what is best and who do I practically  trust?

Clearly, my choices and not my pronouncements, truly declare who I really trust.

Okay, in the instance of my ‘lipids’, the choice is done. I have the medicines prescribed. I will commence taking the medicine in about three weeks time and a month after that I will need a blood test to see what is happening. Hmm, we’ll be in Turkey then. They have doctors – but do they have a doctor I trust?… that is the key question….for later.

But my doctor does more than prescribe medicine and tests. He also tells me things that I can ‘do’ and ‘not do’ that affect my health.

I like my doctor. He is not overweight – partly because he would not feel effective in telling people to watch their weight if he were obese. He gives advice and is not loath to follow it himself.

So, he says some basic things – but the one that keeps coming up is little eight letter word which I do not appreciate.

My doctor doesn’t lecture. He doesn’t make me feel bad. He doesn’t have to. He speaks the truth. He applies his own medicine to himself. He points the way forward. He gives good counsel. He uses illustrations and wee stories that highlight the basic health message he wants to communicate.

I control my eating well. Tick, that is good.

But that little eight letter word – well, I toy with it, I entertain it – I even indulge it from time to time but not on the regular basis required.

By nature I tend to be quite sedentary. When we were first parents and riding in a crowded vehicle on a long, long journey our first born was tired and needed to sleep – he was a wee babe in arms. I cradled him on my chest and didn’t move for the length of his nap. Didn’t stir, shift or reposition – he needed his sleep.

T. can’t do that. When she is at ‘rest’, something somewhere is moving. Her toe can be beating time to music in her head – all absent-mindedly. When I try to replicate it, I have to assign part of my mind to actively maintain the action – quickly I either tire or become distracted. She can do it for hours on end. She can not, however, sit still.

I can. And that may have been a blessing for my sleeping son, but it is now part of my problem.

What does my doctor say? What is that eight letter word?

Yes, you know.

Exercise.

Not ‘kill yourself with exertion’ exercise – not ‘marathon running’ exercise. Just twenty minutes a day with the heart beating well (not frantically).

Simple, straight forward exercise on a routine, daily basis.

You brush your teeth, you wash your hands, you have a drink, you eat a meal – things we all do daily. He just advises moderate exercise to be part of the daily picture.

What he says is not in anyway or by any definition, unreasonable.

Besides, I trust my doctor.

I believe what he says – and I am impressed by what he does.

I take the medicine he prescribes – faithfully.

I watch what I eat.

but……

But a doctor I trust and the best medicine in the world and wise words of life-style counsel are only as effective as my obedience not to the part but to the whole.

Confession time (in March 2011). I do not exercise. I do bits and bobs but I do not keep either the spirit nor the letter of his recommendations. I felt ashamed to visit my doctor this year – not for the bits I did and did well, but for the significant bit that I had left undone.

Confession is good – face the truth – admit the truth. But that doesn’t really move things forward. It is a positive step, a starting point and yet there must be more.

After confession must come repentance – turning from my neglectful and slothful ways and putting into practice that which I already know.

And I write it here – and any one of you can challenge me on this point – to see if I am merely a hearer of what my doctor says or a doer. And I encourage you to challenge me (I couldn’t write I ‘welcome’ because no one wants to be called on their weak point) but better to be a wee bit embarrassed and do the right thing rather than attempt to cover it over and hide that which will be obvious to all who would subsequently see my over-weight frame.

How often have I neglected the whole counsel of what my doctor has told me – doing the bits that I chose to do and yes, developing self-discipline to achieve it, but neglecting the bits that do not come naturally to me and would require a real commitment.

Dare I query of myself how often have I done this with my Heavenly Physician…..

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