Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
The Presbyterians lay to rest the body of a good man
who admitted me to the hospital put the blame for pain on my gall bladder. He
asked what surgeon I preferred, I did not have a clue. I agreed for him to call
in Dr. Robert L. Dorrough who happened to be Chief of
next morning the good doctor introduced himself at my bedside. He explained my options. One, delay surgery
until the next time my gall bladder flared up, or two, agree for him to
I asked him
to explain the surgical procedure. At that time, removing a gall bladder was
major surgery. For him it was routine. He was an experienced surgeon.
simply make a grand opening in my midsection, remove the troublesome organ, and
sew me back up.
can I be back in my pulpit?” I asked.
return to work after two weeks, though I strongly recommend that you take four
weeks off for a complete recovery,” he replied.
I was 48
and had never gone under the knife. Now facing this necessity, I wanted to know
something about the man who would wield the scalpel.
So I asked
him what was for me a very important question: “Are you a Christian?”
and said, “I have a son who is a Presbyterian minister.”
back and said, “But that does not make you a Christian.”
by my grilling, he replied, “You’re right, but I am a Christian and I consider
my work a ministry.”
now that I could trust him to cut me open, I asked him to operate that very
day. I wanted to get on with it.
He asked me
to wait a couple of days. “I promised to help my son pack to move, so I need to
keep my promise,” he said. The date for surgery was set for two days later.
time I waited for surgery I had two memorable experiences. One was humorous.
The other was not.
well-meaning friend who was a nurse visited me. She came to encourage me, but
failed. As she was about to leave my room, she said, “Preacher, you will be
fine; I have heard of only two people who ever died from gall bladder surgery.”
faintly as she left. Then fear took over, as it sometimes does. Only two people
have ever died from this surgery, and I was about to become the third!
It was only
after I realized I had not died that I was able to laugh at my friend’s attempt
to encourage me.
night before surgery, my family visited with me for hours. At last, only my
wife was in the room. However, about
In the next
few moments, I realized how lonely a hospital room could be when there is no
one to hold your hand. Once again, fear swept over me. This might be my last
night to be alive.
If it were,
there were some things I wanted to say to my wife, so I wrote her a long
letter, to be opened only in the event of my death. I tucked the letter in my
Bible, still wrestling with raw fear.
that I had not thought of it sooner, I opened my Bible to find help. Soon I
began reading Psalm 91.
the Book of Psalms contains the songs and prayers of an ancient people who cried
out to God hundreds of years ago.
that night they were much more than that to me. That night the 91st
Psalm was a personal message from God to me. I was a frightened man and,
speaking to me through that Psalm, God comforted my soul and quieted my fear.
I rested “in the shadow of the Almighty.” I took refuge “under his wings,” and
found victory over the fear that comes like “the terror of night.”
I smiled as
I read in verse eleven about the Lord commanding his angels to guard me in all
my ways, even to lift me up “in their hands.” If those angels are able to lift
me up, then the Lord has some mighty big angels, I thought, as I dropped off to
the next day went off without a hitch. For over 20 years I have been thankful
for the skill and kindness of that splendid surgeon.
Thursday the Presbyterians lay to rest the body of that good man. It was only
when I read his obituary that I realized what a fine and humble Christian
Robert Dorrough was.
When I asked
him if he was a Christian, he could have told me that he had once served as a
medical missionary in the
read obituaries. This one I read with emotion and gratitude. I wished I had
taken the time, before he passed on, to thank him one more time for a job well
reminds me that in the course of a lifetime, most of us are blessed to have
many wonderful people touch our lives in beneficial ways. Surgeon Robert Dorrough was one of those for me.