REST STOP: Reflections of a chaplain approaching the off-ramp

REST STOP: Reflections of a chaplain approaching the off-ramp
By Gordon Ruddick, Hospital Chaplain, Oregon

I am drawn to wounded people. I am curious when I see the limp, the hesitation, the crooked smile. The shadow in the eyes. The holding back in the heart.

And of course, it is my own wounds that give entrance to that world. The key that opens the rusty lock. Without those wounds I would not be who I am. Or drawn to those who interest me as they do.

I am a follower of Jesus. For many years. I am always amazed when I look at His interactions with people in His day. Many of whom were on the edges. On the sidelines. Broken down on the shoulder of the road. People who society did not really notice. Or value. Hurt and hollow. Bruised and broken.

And He would pull over. And stop. Even when He was on his way somewhere, He would stop. Even when it annoyed His posse. And He would listen. And help. At times they felt it necessary to scold him or set him straight. (They actually tried that on occasion!) And sometimes He would teach his interns from the moments that they observed. The moments and lessons they came close to missing. Oops.

I love to sit by the well, watching Jesus interact with a woman who was all alone. The outcast one who came to the well when no one else was present. And I listen as He connects with her. As He asks questions to draw out who she is, what her hurt is. And I marvel as He offers His hope and care. How He shares the precious gift He is and possesses. And I see the amazing results that come from such an interaction. The hope that was not present only a few moments ago.

And I see how His approach is gentle, hopeful, connecting. He builds up. He does not tear down. He feels the deep needs, senses the depth of the losses, and provides hope and help. And how it changes her life in a short time.

Help me be aware, Lord, of the wounded folks along my way. Help me to listen, to touch, to ask, to offer, to connect with those who have no other connection. And most of all to love with no reservations or expectations. May I be and bring a drink of cold water on a hot day in a parched land to wounded people.

Join us in thanking God for Chaplain Ruddick’s faithful and fruitful ministry career. Pray for the Spirit’s guidance as he transitions into retirement. Ask the Lord of the Harvest to continue bringing in new “replacements,” which we enjoy watching Him regularly do!

For more stories by and about Venture Churches’ chaplaincy opportunities, military and civilian, visit Chaplaincy – Venture Church Network ( For information on endorsement, email Randy Brandt, Director, at

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