Taking the Pulse

Taking the Pulse

“It’s going to be okay. You’re going to be all right.”

Through the slits in my eyelids I could vaguely see a small crowd of people hovering over and near me as I lay on the floor. But I distinctly heard those reassuring words. Against the bright overhead lights, there was the outline of a woman hovering over me, kneeling at my right side, taking my pulse. Her voice had the assurance of someone who knew about life and death. I decided she must know I was going to live. My anxious breathing evened out and the pain began to subside.

When the EMTs arrived and began to check my vital signs, they determined it was prudent to transport me to the hospital. But as they were lifting me to the gurney, I weakly spoke a few words. I wanted to thank the woman who had held my hand and comforted me.

They asked those who were nearby, but no one had seen her. Everyone had been watching me the whole time. No one had seen a woman next to me, talking to me, touching my arm.

They assured me that no one was there to thank. But I knew I heard her voice. I knew I felt a hand on my arm… fingers on my pulse.

What most people want (but sometimes don’t even acknowledge) is to be understood… to have their feelings understood.

What most people want (but sometimes don’t acknowledge) is to be understood.

So how can we let our colleagues, our employees, our family, our church members, the customers we serve know that we understand? Sometimes we don’t understand because we haven’t taken the time to find out. Or they haven’t been willing or comfortable to share their feelings. Perhaps we haven’t provided the opportunity, the right atmosphere, the safe environment for sharing.

How can we, in a sense, have our finger on the pulse of our people?

Usually it’s just a simple conversation, one long enough to get below the surface of politeness. Ask for their opinion. Acknowledge their problems and issues, not just the ones that directly affect your relationship with them, but also those that may be affecting their outlook on that relationship.

It takes time… time to listen, ask questions, and learn.

I know my Lord Jesus knows me. Like the old hymn proclaims, “He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own.” He acknowledges me. He listens to me. He even lets me express my opinions, some of them even in anger. But He assures me in Psalm 139 that He really and truly knows all about me.

Our Lord knows we sometimes don’t see His perspective. We haven’t always taken the time to get to know Him below the surface of just being Almighty God. He tells us that He wants us to know Him deeply: “Be still and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10)

Do we really know God? Can we ever know Him fully? Of course not. As the psalmist says, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” (Psalm139:6).

Do we really know God? Can we ever know Him fully? Of course not.

But if we want to know Him more fully we need to do the same things that we should do with our colleagues, our friends, our employees, our family: Talk with Him; ask His opinion; listen and learn; acknowledge Him not only for His Almighty power but also for His love, mercy and grace.

And also ask Him for the wisdom, time, desire, and courage to truly know the people He has entrusted to us. The ones we should understand well enough to know how their pulse is beating. 

I still wonder about the person who took my pulse and talked to me. I know I heard her voice. I know I felt her fingers on my arm. I know she was sent by my Lord Jesus to reassure me. Because He knew I needed to know, at that very moment, that I was in His loving care.

And He still wants me to know, to be reassured, that I’m going to be okay. Because He knows me intimately and understands me. He has His finger on my pulse. And He has His finger on yours too!

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Christine Vogelsang

Christine Vogelsang is a teacher, musician, pastor’s wife, and mother of three adult children. For almost forty years her family enjoyed the love of congregations in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Southern California. She has earned her master’s degree in education, taught at various schools (from kindergarten to college) and served as music director for twenty-five years at their last church.

While writing and speaking about the joy of being God’s child has always been a part of her life, it wasn’t until her weekly inspirational blogs (restoringthejoy.net) gained an international following that Christine decided to publish her first book. She has also written and produced three plays about people and events in the Gospels that bring these ancient stories to life.

Christine and her husband have retired from full time church work; however, her blog ministry continues to grow. She recently completed her Restoring the Joy: Leaving My Guilt at the Cross book series (available through Amazon) and is scheduling more speaking engagements that highlight her spiritual passion: joy without guilt!

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