The recent revelations about the secret “waiting lists” at Veterans Administration Medical Centers made me wonder about an incident I experienced about a year ago.
I called into my local VA clinic to schedule an appointment, and was told that because there was nothing available in the next 30 days, I would have to call back. I asked if I could just get a time a bit later and was told, “No, you have to call back.” I thought that was a bit strange, but now it makes sense. They didn’t want to decrease their statistics by booking outside the 30-day window. How many others experienced something similar?
The VA put a measurement in place to determine if veterans were indeed getting timely medical care. Unfortunately they were not getting an accurate measure of performance because employees manipulated the numbers to hide a systemic problem.
Why did personnel ‘fudge’ the stats? Because it hurt their pride if they didn’t perform to expectations? Fear of consequences of they didn’t meet minimum requirements? Probably a combination of both.
About 25 years ago, a friend reported to a new duty assignment on a Navy ship and shortly thereafter prepared their personnel report, which detailed gross manpower shortages. The skipper was furious that the report went out because it revealed that his ship was not in a state of military readiness. But as a result, the Navy personnel department realized the problem and gave priority to filling their empty positions. Although my friend received the ire of the commanding officer, this honesty was worth the pain. I don’t know if the CO ever admitted his anger was misplaced.
How often do we do the same thing in our spiritual life? We know what will help us grow in our faith – spending time in the Word, prayer, community with others in the church, sharing the gospel. But do we sometimes get locked in on the wrong thing?
When we focus on the measurements instead of the true goal that the actions are meant to produce – a closer walk with God and spiritual maturity – we drift into legalism.
At times of dryness, I often find that I have done just this.
In those times, I need to remember that Christianity is not a religion but a relationship with Christ. I must focus of the person of Jesus and depend on Him moment by moment.
What are your thoughts? Have you lost your first love for God? Have you had dry times? What did you do to get out of it? Or did you?
O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Saviour,
And life more abundant and free:
Turn you eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
By Helen H. Lemmel