I’ve been thinking a lot about practical theology this last week. For those of you who read this blog but are not members of Guilford Park, a quick update: The Rev. Dr. Bob Herron, (retired) Executive Director of the Presbyterian Counseling Center for 33 years, over 30 year member of Guilford Park and Parish Associate here, was in a cycling accident last Wednesday (May 20) most likely due to a drop in his heart rate. He is currently in a coma with a traumatic brain injury.
So this is why I’ve been thinking about how the theology I’ve read and preached comes into play. For starters, I know what I don’t believe. I do not believe that God caused Bob’s accident or wanted it to happen. God does not cause bad things to happen, but happen they do.
What I do believe is at times more tenuous and can be harder to grab a hold of. I do believe and have felt God’s presence in Bob’s ICU room. I’ve felt God’s presence in the hugs I’ve shared with family members, and I have felt God’s presence in the outpouring of love and prayers shared by this congregation and the community at large. I know the Herrons have felt your love and prayers as well.
I believe that our bodies are frail, no matter how good of shape we’re in. But, as Psalm 139 tells us, God knit us together in our mothers’ wombs, and God can knit us together again. Modern medicine and tools like pacemakers, drainage tubes and ventilators only make God’s job a bit easier.
I believe that when the ground falls out from under us, the only solid ground we have to stand on is our rock- Jesus. We sing “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” That being said, there are times when we cannot find the rock on our own. We are reliant upon others to guide us, carry us, sometimes even drag us to the rock.
I believe we are never alone, and that Christ’s face can be seen in the most unexpected places in the midst of crisis. The morning after Bob’s accident, my eyes swollen from tears, I stopped into Panera for some comfort food. Imagine my surprise that Jesus was taking my order that morning! He arrived in the face of a young woman with a radiant smile who asked me not once, but twice how I was doing that morning. Because of her, I was doing just a little better.
I believe that neither height nor depth, nor things present nor things to come, nor biking accidents nor hospital rooms, nor tears of frustration and sorrow, can separate us from the love of God.
When I wrote the first entry of Bob’s Caring Bridge site last week, I wanted to include some scripture. So I opened my Bible. Naturally, it opened to the book of Psalms. I was about to start flipping pages to find something appropriate, when I looked down at the psalm in front of me: Psalm 61, titled “Assurance of God’s Protection.” While the random opening-of-the-Bible trick doesn’t always work, opening to the Psalms usually does. Because all of life in encased in those poems.
Listen with your heart to these words of scripture, and pray them for yourself, for those you love, and for those who have no one to pray for them:
Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I call to you,
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I;
for you are my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
Let me abide in your tent for ever,
find refuge under the shelter of your wings.
For you, O God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.