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A very present help

They also serve who only stand and wait.

-Douglas Milne-

Last July I was run down by a speeding police motor-cyclist in peak hour traffic on a Friday evening in one of Melbourne’s busiest roads. I have no recollection of the accident, only coming back to consciousness in the emergency ward of one of our city hospitals hours later with the family gathered round me.

I was laid aside for a month and am thankful to say that I had my last hospital check-up in the New Year, being almost fully restored with no permanent injury in spite of three breakages in my body at the time and several gashes to head and arm.

The editor of AP has asked me to write something about my experience by sharing some of the reflections I had during the convalescence that could be of help to other injured or suffering Christians.

My immediate recollection in the first days afterwards was of the wonderful love of Christ in caring for me and protecting me from death, serious injury or permanent disability. I felt that my dear Saviour had shown me His love in a particularly marked way that was deeply personal to me, moving and strengthening. I remember thinking too, that if He cared for me like that when I had lost all awareness and control over my own body and soul, then death could not be so very different and I could count on Him to carry me through that final “accident” and test.

Another biblical train of thought that came for me was the agency of angels whom I did picture retrospectively watching over my battered and bloodied body lying in the middle of the traffic flow when I could so easily have been run over in the darkness. Providentially a large truck managed to stop and block off the traffic coming behind it, I was told later. The experience made me more confident in their very real though unseen ministry to the heirs of salvation, as Hebrews puts it (Heb 1:14).

If He cared for me like that when I had lost all awareness and control over my own body and soul, then death could not be so very different.

During my convalescence I received numerous expressions of Christian love, concern and promises of prayer support from friends and colleagues from everywhere that was quite overwhelming. So I received first-hand experience of the love and fellow feeling that is in the Body of Christ, a proof of Christ’s own love present and peeking through the words and actions of His people united to Him. It also made me reflect, beginning with myself, that perhaps too often we fail to express that brotherly love and mercy to one another until some tragedy strikes. But I take this opportunity to thank any of you reading this piece who shared the pain of Joan and me at the time, for your fellowship in the gospel that was so deeply felt and appreciated.

Lastly, the accident galvanised me into fulfilling a pledge I had made with myself many years before that when I retired I would use some of my extra time in praying more, and for more people. I did do that and have continued this ministry of intercession since, by praying for people I have never prayed for before, for Christian organisations of different kinds, for the churches of our denomination in particular but for other churches also, for our pagan country and communities, LGBT and Muslim, that they would be saved, and above all and persistently for a new work of God’s Spirit among us and through us all.

The subheading for this personal piece is taken from John Milton’s poem On His Blindness, where the author takes comfort from his unwanted disability of blindness that prevented him reading and writing again but not from praising and trusting God.

Douglas Milne is a former principal of the Presbyterian Theological College, Melbourne

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