Richard Rood (Th.M., 1972–1976), Hospital Chaplain, found love in a drop of juice.
For twenty years Rick’s wife, Polly, suffered from Huntington’s disease. Eleven of those years she lived in a nursing home, and for six “ate” through a feeding tube. Every day Rick would visit her and drop juice on her tongue just so she could taste something. “Love isn’t always warm and romantic,” he says. “That’s part of it, but fundamentally love is serving the other person.”
Rick, whose last name is an old English word that means ‘cross,’ attributes his faith to the influence of his parents, both ministry professionals, as well as his pastor, Ray Stedman (Th.M., 1950), and college pastor, David Roper (Th.M., 1961), at Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, California. Their impact encouraged Rick to study where they studied—at Dallas Seminary. But everything after that, he says, hasn’t gone as planned.
“I wanted to pastor or teach—probably that’s true of most DTS students—but after my wife’s diagnosis with her illness,” he says, “nothing since has been anything I planned to do. I knew that my main calling in life from that point on was to care for Polly.”
While Rick did go on to pastor a church in Seattle, to work with international students, and serve as director of publications for Probe Ministries, his priority became his wife’s care. “Every day God provided what we needed. We didn’t just make it through life, but lived our life fully in spite of the limitations. We didn’t have the choice of whether to back away from it, rebel against it, run away from it or pretend it didn’t exist. We had to embrace it and live it.
“When I look back over our life,” he continues, “it’s not really a story about us. We were just two very ordinary people with no special qualities. It’s a story about God’s grace toward us. And the only reason I tell our story is so that people can know what a great God we have.”
Rick now shares his stories with patients and their families as a chaplain at Mesquite Community Hospital in Mesquite, Texas, as well as at a nearby psychiatric hospital. “As a chaplain you’ve got to take time to really listen to patients,” he says. “You have to pace yourself throughout the day to take care of your own emotional and spiritual well-being, and you need to take time to get away and enjoy other things.” Those other things for him are spending time with his two grown children and reading nonfiction.
“When I first started [as a chaplain], I saw my role as providing spiritual care to people who were going through some kind of crisis, and I still do. But I started asking myself, ‘How might God be using this crisis to further the patient’s relationship with Him?’” he says. “Really, the bottom line in all of our lives isn’t, ‘Am I going to recover from this illness?’ The bottom line is about our relationship with God. When we leave this world, that’s the one thing we’re going to carry with us. So all the medical care, as important as it is, is temporary maintenance.”
In light of Rick’s life experience, he extends a few words of advice to students considering or in seminary: “Be devoted to your purpose in being here—to gain the skills necessary to study God’s Word,” he says. “But remember that God’s Word is not an end in itself. It’s a means to knowing God. Never lose sight of that fact. We all graduate with plans. That’s good, but in the long run God’s plan is always best. Wherever you are now, ask God to use you. I’ve learned to quit forecasting the future.”
The mission of Dallas Theological Seminary is to
glorify God by equipping godly servant-leaders
for the proclamation of His Word and the
building up of the body of Christ worldwide.