When I was a senior pathology resident, I moonlighted at a community hospital. Many of my fellow residents viewed it as a rite of passage, a transition to the real world, unsheltered by the safety of a training program. It was also an excellent way to network with the community pathologists, better positioning ourselves to get a job after we completed our training.
I remember the first day I stepped into the pathology laboratory and began the work. It was only the simple task of grossing in the surgical specimens of the day but I was understandably nervous. This duty entailed describing the tissue samples that had been delivered from the operating room. There were uteruses, colons, breasts, and small biopsy specimens. Each specimen needed to be precisely sectioned and placed into tissue cassettes to be processed overnight and made into microscope slides. Although the difficult part of this entire process was reviewing the microscope slide and rendering the diagnosis, my role was not trivial. If I did not accurately describe the specimen and take appropriate sections, the senior surgical pathologist would be reviewing microscopic sections that were not representative of the patient’s disease. A cancer diagnosis could be missed or a malignant tumor could be misdiagnosed as benign. On several occasions, these selection errors were pointed out to me. I was chagrined but thankful for the instruction.
Moonlighting was an important stepping stone in my career. It matured me as I gained a complete understanding of what it meant to become a surgical pathologist and ultimately, a true physician. It was increasing levels of responsibility and independence. It allowed me to recognize bad habits before serious errors could occur.
In my Christian walk, God has also taken me through important stepping stones. He led me to several Bible studies and seminars before I led my own small groups. He led me to play guitar in several worship bands before calling me to lead my own worship team. And He allowed me to fail so that He could teach me important lessons in my faith.
You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 2:3 (NKJV)
During the first few years after I became a Christian, friends, family members, even college professors would question the reasons for my faith. While I knew what changes had taken place in my heart and my life, I could not articulate it to the satisfaction of my audience. God used these experiences to help me dig into His Word and find the answers.
Like the mistakes I made when I was moonlighting, God used these times of training to allow me to fail so that when I encounter these situations in the future, He would bring me through victoriously.
All praise to the Living God, Jesus Christ!
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.