One of my best big brothers is Dr. Paul Gray. We had the privilege of meeting about seven years ago, attending the same church in Dallas, TX. He and his wife Becca (along with their two gorgeous children) have since moved to Ethiopia to serve as medical missionaries. Paul is a surgeon and Becca is a dietitian. You can read about their adventures here.

Paul and Becca are a constant source of encouragement to me. That may seem a bit backwards, since it is we the stateside "supporters" and "prayer partners" that are supposed to be the constant encouragement, right? Hardly.

(I know I'm going to get in trouble for this--Paul is not a fan of people singing his praises. He's one of the humblest men I've ever met, which makes me want to sing his praises even more. Sorry Paul, I'm not a very good friend.)

They walked away from the so-called "American Dream" for the sake of the advancement of the Gospel in Ethiopia. This made absolutely no sense at all to his surgical colleagues here in Texas. Why waste your life? It's a great question. And it's one that Paul has wrestled with in gut-wrenching honesty, an honesty that I deeply appreciate. He'll be the first to tell you he's no super-Christian. The thing that seems to motivate him to work countless hours "peeing in the ocean" is a rare and inspiring, tenacious faith in the Call of God for the sake of the Gospel. He sees some pretty horrible stuff over there. Sometimes, I can barely read his posts (which should tell you something, since I'm a surgical nurse myself. I'm supposed to be able to stomach this stuff). He works on--doing the best he possibly can with the resources he has to heal bodies and souls. Additionally, he is training and discipling Christian surgeons who will continue to extend their ministry of redemption to Ethiopia and other countries in Africa.

So they come to Texas a few months ago to have their daughter. They make the rounds, and we get to spend an afternoon visiting. Paul asks me how I'm doing (crazy doctor, won't let you get off with "I'm fine." He really wants to know and will continue asking diagnostic questions until he knows the state of your soul--because he cares and loves like Christ). I tell him it's tough being out of seminary, yet still working in the hospital, with no full-time church ministry. Worse, after the hours spent at the hospital, church, and family, I feel like I have no time to continue learning (and retaining) the things I learned in seminary. The fear of attrition and stagnation has me by the throat, with no end in sight. He asks, "What is it you'd like to be reading?" I tell him I've been thinking about this volume on church history that has been taunting me from the bookshelf for months. So he's like, "So read it. You've got to make the time." I'm like, "Paul there is no time." He's like, "Dan, there's never going to be time." He's right. Dang surgeon.

Haunting words. True words. Encouraging words. Good brother. I'm reading. I'm writing. I still have a lot of balls in the air, and I drop a few sometimes. But he's right. There's never going to be time. Of course, he'd acknowledge that life has seasons of ebb and flow. The time right after a new baby is not the same as the time when that baby is finally sleeping through the night, and is toilet trained. But the point still stands. Good intentions must be actualized by hard work and discipline. And sometimes you need a good brother to say, "Read the book." Thanks Paul. I love you. May the Lord bless your work and give you strength.


Matt Blosser said...

What an encouraging post! Thank you.