While visiting the Veteran Administrations Hospital for my annual physical, I got off on the wrong floor. I promptly got lost. I must admit that I have never been very good at finding my way around in government buildings.
It was the third floor where the door to the elevators opened and I instinctively stepped off without looking at what floor I was on. I was supposed to go one more floor up.
However it would be fifteen to twenty minutes before I would discover this.
Wandering up and down the corridors of this building, I searched for the set of offices that I needed to visit. I had been to them before, one year ago, so I knew they existed; however I could not remember what they looked like.
And to me all governmental offices look the same anyway.
As I searched for the office numbers, I came to the Chapel. Every VA Hospital has one.
It was here I also discovered the only telephone on the floor. I lifted the receiver and started to dial the number to the clinic that I was by now already late for, when I notice a man seated in the chairs of the Chapel.
I could hear him crying.
Gently I hung up the phone and quietly I walked into the seating area and sat down beside him. He had both hands over his face and was softly weeping. I leaned over and whispered, “Brother, are you okay?”
He looked at me and said, “Yeah, I am.”
He paused to catch his breath. He obviously had a breathing problem.
He explained that as a baby he had an accident that had broken his nose and had caused him pain throughout his life. Several times he had lost jobs because he could not catch his breath and now at 70 years old the doctors had discovered the problem and were going to be able to fix it for him.
“I cry because I’m happy,” he said.
It was hard for me to stop crying as I lay my hand on his should and asked if we could pray together for a successful operation, quick recovery, joyful life and a gracious God. He thanked me and said, “God bless you,” as I left to make my appointment.
Those words made me feel heroic.
After my doctor’s appointment, I dropped back down to the third floor and the Chapel. The man was gone and I had expected him to be.
So I rushed off to speak to the Chaplain. I wanted to tell him what I had done. I followed the signs that had arrows pointing to his office. I searched for nearly half an hour and could not find his office. I had to get back to work, so I left.
It was later the next day that it occurred to me what had happened. I was relating the tale to friend when this thought crossed my mind: I wanted to tell the Chaplain what I had done, when in truth, I had done nothing at all.
It was the Holy Spirit that had done it. And it was also the Holy Spirit that had blinded me from seeing the Chaplains office so that I did not go barging in, make a fool of myself claiming to have done something that I had no right to claim.
Now, I am left wondering if I met a Vet on the third floor or an Angel in the Chapel and if it really matters anyway.