Bearing Burdens 

A couple of months ago in our staff meeting we sang one of my favorite hymns, How Great Thou Art.  The verse that always has meant the most to me is this:

And when I think,  that God His Son not sparing

Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in:

That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,

He bled and died to take away my sin

Then sings my soul…my Saviour God to thee:

How great thou art! How great thou art!

The line that hit me in a way it never had before this time was this:  “That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing…..”  At Samaritan we use Galatians 6:2 in almost all of our materials:  “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  When we take on one another’s problems, help one another with sins (Gal. 6:1), and bear the hard loads with one another we’re displaying what Jesus did on the cross.  One of the ways I’ve explained this to folks new to the idea (borrowed from Seth) is that we move pianos.

You’ve moved a piano (or some other heavy piece of furniture) with a friend, right?  Everybody gathers around and finds a place to grab on and then lift, shuffle a few steps, and set it down.  Then repeat that until you’ve gotten the piano out of the house, onto the moving truck, and then back into the new home.  Bearing burdens for one another means taking on things too big for one person to handle and doing them together.  And Jesus displayed this (among other things) in His bearing your burdens and mine on the Cross.

You and I owed a debt we couldn’t pay, and so He took it on Himself.  He bore that debt, paid that penalty for you and for me.  He didn’t have to.  He did it out of love.  And when you help a brother in need or do good to another man or woman (v. 10) you display the Gospel.  You display what Jesus did when he bore your burden.

Live like that.  Don’t grow weary in doing good and show forth what He’s done by treating others with the same love and grace has He’s shown you.  Bear one another’s burdens and so proclaim the Gospel with your life and works.

A Samaritan Fan Raves about Us…

…after recently joining.

We chose Samaritan for several reasons:

First, it’s well run. Here’s their 2012 Form 990. We spoke with current members who rave about it. I couldn’t find any online complaints. When I asked our agent for dirt on Samaritan, he mustered a feeble defense for insurance. He admitted that he’s losing customers to it: “It really works.” I love that Samaritan contracts with The Karis Group to negotiate discounts — typically 40-45% — on our behalf.

via …Hello, Health Care Sharing.

It’s nice getting to work in a place where our members are so excited about what they’ve decided to be a part of.  We certainly have problems…but I’m thankful for what I get to be a part of in my work.

People Amazing One Another…A Daily Occurrence at Samaritan

Samaritan Ministries’ members share in one another’s burdens in concrete, personal ways.  Here’s something from the Samaritan blog about a member’s special prayer need:

Brenda Leonard of Virginia had a burden when she joined Samaritan in 2013. Emergency gall bladder surgery in 2012 had left her and her husband, Jonah, with thousands of dollars owed to medical providers because they had no health insurance. The Leonards had been making payments to hospitals for the surgery and for a subsequent hospital stay due to a resulting infection. One of the major bills was paid off, but some others remained outstanding.After reading some letters from members who had been blessed by Special

Prayer Need gifts, Brenda called Samaritan in spring 2014 to see if she might be able to submit her leftover bills as an SPN. Due to the long winter, Jonah, a landscaper, was out of work and the Leonards were having trouble footing the remaining medical bills. The need was shared as an SPN in early summer, and the result “amazed” Brenda.

via Member’s burden quickly lifted as Special Prayer Need – Samaritan Ministries International.

Have I mentioned lately that I love my job?

Bleeding Purple

A few years ago UPS had an advertising campaign where they tried to brand themselves with their color: brown. It worked better than I would have thought and I’ve remembered it and truth be told if you see a big brown truck driving around in your town or city you know it’s UPS long before you see the logo.

Samaritan Ministries rebranded ourselves a decade or so ago with the color purple. Some people here still haven’t fallen in love with it, but it’s better than brown, right?

So this morning I addressed our largest department’s monthly all-hands meeting talking about our core values. I could almost do this presentation in my sleep (and considering I was up late last night making calls to India that’s a good thing). I love my job and where I work and am thankful for this privilege. And here’s why:

I cannot express how much of a blessing Samaritan Ministries has been. From the initial phone call starting my need through the process of paying my bills, Samaritan and the members prayed for me and stayed with me. Watching friends and family go through similar medical events and having to deal with insurance companies made my need process seem so easy. All of my bills are 100 percent paid in full, shortly after my surgery. I had concerns about dealing with the bills, but Samaritan made it so simple and straightforward. I am telling all my friends and family about SMI, and they are amazed at the simplicity of your program. I recommend it to everyone!

via Testimonies – Samaritan Ministries International.

We change people’s lives and fill a need. Our members are the greatest people and they not only stay with us, but write letters like that one to encourage us in our work. And if you cut open my arm right now my blood won’t be red…it’s purple. And it’s not only a great place to work…it’s a mission I’m putting my life behind as long as they’ll have me.

December Crazies

I know I’ve talked before about how crazy life can get around here. I’m told that December is a generally crazy month for everyone.

December has Christmas, of course. And we try to do it up and have several extended “family” celebrations from the 24th-26th, rounding out with a big brunch on the Feast of St. Stevens (or “Stevenmas” as we call it) on the 26th.

In addition, Clara’s birthday is in December. Oh, and I had class two weekends in a row. All of that adds up to quite a bit.

And that’s before you throw in the Samaritan Ministries Board meeting. It starts tomorrow. Two very long days of discussing big issues.

Don’t get me wrong…I love serving in my job. And the quarterly board meetings are among the best parts. It’s a great time for reflection and review. We get to look back at what God’s been doing with our organization and look forward to what we think is coming and put all the pieces together for the Board of Directors, 2/3 of whom are elected from the Samaritan Membership.

With school this year I’m feeling supremely unprepared for this meeting. So many things seem to hinge on every meeting, and this one is pivotal as we look into a terribly uncertain 2014. Health care in general is in disarray, and we need to have plans that are easily adaptable and yet firm enough that we can accomplish our goals and provide great service to our ever-growing membership.

So last night I crunched numbers for a presentation that will be part of the meeting on Friday. Communicating the issues effectively is crucial for the board to make good decisions. And that communication falls on my shoulders for the most part and the gravity of the issues we’re discussing is consciously present and weighing on me.

If you think of it today, pray for me. I have a lot of thoughts to put together and will likely be working on it into the evening again tonight. We are at a pivotal point in the history of Samaritan and I want to do this well. It’s a great chance to apply what I’ve been learning in school and to do what I’ve been called to do, but a mistake at this juncture could have far-reaching effects.

Have you ever had a point in your work where it felt like things mattered more than usual? What’s the story?

A Great Place to Work

Samaritan Ministries, where I’ve been employed here in the Peoria area since 1999, has always been a great job for me.  Challenging and rewarding.  If you’ve never had a job where you are passionate about the mission of the organization that employs you, you might find this hard to believe, but I love both my job and my workplace.  Every day, even the mundane jobs that I have to do, are all rewarding because they fit into a mission that I am solidly behind.  It makes it so much easier to go into work.

Samaritan was recently, for at least the third year running, named one of the Best Christian Workplaces via staff anonymous surveys taken last year.  It’s exciting, while we still continue to have room for improvement, to know that the overwhelming majority of the staff love working here and are glad to be a part of our organization.