When I was in high school, the honor roll students were taken to St. Louis to visit St. Luke's Hospital.
While there, we watched a surgical procedure, removal of gall stones.
I remember watching with awe as surgeons, anesthetists, nurses and orderlies moved about caring for their individual responsibilities. The surgery was a success. The patient recovered. Afterward, while standing in the hall outside the viewing gallery, I fainted dead away.
That was not a success. However, after sitting on the floor with my head down between my knees, I also recovered.
How did those doctors and nurses develop the skills to perform that surgery? It's rather simple.
There are two ways to gain the skills to perform surgery as well as other tasks: 1) watch it being done (the eyes have it); and 2) hands-on experience.
A surgeon-to-be begins by watching an experienced surgeon perform an operation. He stands where I once stood, looking down at the procedure. By this means, he observes the teamwork, cooperation and individual contribution of each member of the surgical team.
Then, after assisting in surgeries and further developing those skills required, the young surgeon is placed in the head surgeon place at the operating table.
Mission accomplished! Eventually, show me and hands on win out, and the victory is worth the struggle.
Jesus had a similar technique. He appointed 12 ... that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach ... and to have authority ... ." Mark 3:14-15.
His training involved their watching him before they were sent to do his work.
Marriages strong, stable, enduring, happy marriages are our primary focus.
Jan. 7, 8, 14 and 15, a seminar was held at the Aspen Hotel in Soldotna. Marriage Quest 2005 provided 39 couples an opportunity to learn skills that would make their marriages better and stronger.
In addition to a clear presentation of helpful principles for better communication and relationships by Terry Baxter, founder of Marriage Quest, and his wife, Debbie, the presence of "Transparent Couples" allowed "The eyes have it" part to be shared.
Each weekend, three couples were willing and happy to share their story with the attendees. The stories revealed that the situations of those in the audience were not unique. Other people walked in similar situations; there was hope for building a better marriage; marriage could be brought back from almost complete disaster to something wonderful and exciting and exceedingly worthwhile.
Marriages tend to drift into stagnation or dissolution, unless the spouses work at their joint project.
Just as surgeons maintain and improve their skills and abilities, Healthy Marriages, Healthy Families, in concert with Kenai Peninsula Marriage Savers, is committed to encourage, support and provide some tools for enriching the marriages of the Kenai Peninsula.
Nothing is more beautiful than watching the special relationship between a husband and wife who have a great marriage after living together for 40, 50 or 60 years.
Even better is to sit down with them during one of the tougher times of a marriage and have them share some of the struggles they faced as well as how they worked through them.
Marriage Quest provided some of that very thing. The attendees were able to hear the stories of the Transparent Couples and learn how they won through some of the stress-filled times of their marriage.
While we could not live in their homes and see their daily life, we had the next best thing: a clear view of their hearts as they opened their more private times to us.
The hands-on part comes as the couples return home with some new tools for their marriage toolbox.
Life will be richer for those with good marriages. Life will be more hopeful for those who have been facing difficult times.
For some married couples, Marriage Quest 2005 provided a 10,000-mile tune-up for their relationship.
For others, the seminar may well have served as a visit to a specialist to gain insights into the state of their marriage as well as some initial steps they could take in restoring it to good health.
Perhaps the greatest tool offered to struggling couples was the tool of hope.
What an encouragement it is to realize that we all have an invitation from the Great Physician to, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28.
That prescription works for marriages too.
Charles G. Thornton is associate pastor of Peninsula Grace Brethren Church, 44175 Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna. Sunday worship is at 11 a.m. Bible classes begin at 9:30 a.m.
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