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The Blocked Ear

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A few weeks ago, I woke up with my right ear completely blocked. At first I thought it was plugged with wax and I tried to flush it out; but the only reward for my actions was that I then began to feel dizzy as well as deaf!

I went to work anyway. I reasoned that it would be no big deal. I would simply use my left ear on the phone. I was wrong. The blockage interfered with my ability to concentrate, and every time I tried to think about what to say in some vital e-mail, or every time I had an important decision to make, my ear was quick to remind me that there was, indeed, still a problem. In fact, the more I tried to focus, the more I found myself becoming distracted by this tiny body parts. It is amazing how one suffering appendage can control the attention of the rest of the body!

I hadn't even been at work an hour when I picked up the phone to call my doctor, but alas! She was on vacation in Portugal! I wish my ear could have gone on vacation as well! Now what was I to do?

The next best thing was the local walk-in clinic. It would open at 4 p.m., and if I didn't want to wait several hours, it was advisable to be there by 3:30. I was. On the nose. I was their first customer, and I was comforted by the thought that it would be just 30 more minutes before the doctor arrived. Only 30 more minutes of discomfort! Wow! I could handle that!

One hour and twenty minutes later, the doctor finally appeared, but when I was ushered into his office, he hardly spoke. He didn't even give an apology for being late. He simply grabbed my ears (ouch!) One by one, and peered inside. Then came the hasty and equally unwelcome verdict: "You have no problems!"

"But there IS a problem," I reminded him. "I can't hear out of my right ear!"

"You have a bit of wax. Use a few drops of mineral oil and it will be gone "

I didn't see the connection. "Why does it feel so blocked if there is just a little bit of wax?" I ventured.

"Be sure to use it for five straight days and have a good day!" was the doctor's reply.

After a quick trip to the pharmacy for the infamous mineral oil, I headed home. My ear, still completely plugged by what the doctor said was wax, was now doubly blocked by the earful of dripping oil! Life could be worse, however! I could be leaking oil from both ears instead of just one!

Life worsened the next day. I woke up with both ears completely blocked. I could barely hear at all. I couldn't stay home, however. I had a workshop for about 100 attendees to deliver!

It was necessary to tell those attending my workshop about my hearing problem, and each time someone asked a question, I had to hurry over to where they sat in order to understand what was being asked.

Somehow this struck me as funny, but four days later, I was no longer laughing. The pressure in both ears had increased. I knew I would have to see the doctor again, but since I couldn't afford a flight to Portugal and I didn't want to waste more of my time in that walk-in-clinic, I decided to go to the local Emergency Room.

Previous experience has taught me to go early, and at 6:30 a.m. I was relieved to see that I was the only one in the waiting room. This is a pretty rare phenomenon in our local hospital, but I wasn't complaining! It wasn't too long before a doctor was examining my ears. He was a bit gentler than the first, but his verdict was only marginally better. "Hmm. I don't see anything significant."

Now THAT wasn't what I wanted to hear! Before I could react, however, he continued: "It's possible that you may have a slight ear infection that isn't yet severe enough to be visible."

Not yet SEVERE enough! At that moment I wished I could give the doctor my ears! He would be quick to change his mind!

"Come back in three days if the symptoms continue," he said, "or sooner, if your ears start to hurt."

Things gradually worsened over the next day and a half, and when I woke up two days later, I had a significant bilateral ear ache. I hesitated before going back to the Emergency Room, however. What if the doctor still couldn't find anything?

My ear dictated that I at least try, and I was served by a different doctor this time. He took one look at my ear and exclaimed: "You have a terrible ear infection. Why didn't you come in earlier?"

I nearly bit a hole in my tongue, but I managed to control the torrent of angry words that threatened to spill forth.

The doctor prescribed powerful antibiotics, and after 10 days, I was significantly better. I still couldn't hear very well, however, and the ears continued to throb. It took another five weeks for the symptoms to completely disappear.

I continue to be amazed at how one unhappy body part, even one so small, can make you feel so miserable. No matter how much you try to pre-occupy your self with whatever task you need to perform, the ailing part makes its presence known. It soon becomes your major distraction, and you start to favor it, no matter how seemingly insignificant.

Then I realized that God compares the church to a body: "Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." (Rom 12:4-5 NIV)

It saddens me to see so many believers who don't pay attention to the body of Christ. Instead of meeting together with fellow Christians, so many prefer to go their own way. Oh, they have excellent excuses:

"They are a bunch of hypocrites!" "They are after my money!" "They do not care…"

However when tragedy hits home, who will be there to help you? If you aren't a part of a body of believers, no one will even know of your situation! Remember: "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." (1 Cor 12:26-27 NIV)

Don't deny the opportunity God has offered to you. A Spirit-filled Bible believing church will be a huge blessing to you. It may not be ideal. None of the early churches were ideal, either! (Try reading Paul's epistles to the Corinthians, if you don't believe me!) However, God's love was a tangible presence even then, and all members were encouraged as a result of their fellowship. When tragedy hit, they were not alone. Others were standing by their side. Today, this is still the same. Christians are still here to help one another.

"Oh, I have a terrible earache!"

Do you have someone who can stand by your side?

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35 NIV)

Rob Chaffart

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