Apply the Scriptures to your life with the Next Steps.
You can watch the message Rick shared at the McNeil campus at www.gatewaychurch.com/podcast.
“We’re in a series about the heart, about wounds, about how heart-wounds effect our lives, our relationships, our personal well-being. To one degree or another, we all carry wounds. To one degree or another, we all do our best to laugh, to create, to enjoy life, to be all we were created and gifted to be. But to one degree or another, we all do battle with wounds, with hardship, with destructive habits, with despairing thoughts.
I’m actually going to takes things a bit farther today than many of us will initially think we can go with this topic.
You start pealing back the layers of our hearts, and you start discovering wounds and problems and issues you know you need to do business with, and it’s natural to have the kind of response that says…
“Okay, I get it, now let me go over here by myself for a bit, leave me a lone for a bit, because I need to get this fixed over here. Don’t ask me to do anything, don’t ask me to take any risks, don’t ask me to take on any responsibilities. I need to get myself to a healthy place, so just let me be over here by myself for a bit.”
Today I’m actually going to do the opposite of that.
I’m going to encourage us to “bring our wounds out here in the open,” and even a bit more than that, I’m going to address the idea of being what we call wounded healers.
In our first week of this series, and throughout the series, John has made an important observation. He has repeatedly said…
Hurt people hurt people.
When our wounds go unaddressed, we are prime candidates to perpetuate those wounds in others. Our wounds drive us to do things that hurt people. Even the most well-intentioned among us will inadvertently hurt those we love when we let our wounds fester. It’s one of the more motivating reasons why we must all get after our heart wounds.
There’s a complimentary truth to John’s observation that hurt people hurt people.
Healing people heal people.
It’s not just HEALED people, as if it’s fully complete and done. It’s healing people—people who are in the process of being healed—they heal people.
Our heart wounds, yes, they carry tremendous potential to wreak havoc in the lives of those around us, but what is equally true, is that these very points of pain also hold tremendous potential to do great good in the world, to do great good in the lives of our friends, to do great good for our children, to do great good for our spouses and significant others.
Wounds may be the worst thing about us, but wounds, when handled with care, they may be the best thing about us, even our gift to the world.
One of my favorite statements in Scripture about what it means to follow Christ is found in Ephesians 2:10 which says:
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
God’s working on you. You’re his workmanship. As he’s working on you, he’s doing so with an end in mind. He has good works he wants you to do. Even more than that, these good works that he wants you to do, he’s prepared them in advance for you. So he’s working on you, and while he’s doing that, he’s preparing good works for you to do in this world.
The good works he’s prepared for us to do, quite often, they grow out of our weaknesses, our failures, and our wounds – the exact places we didn’t expect to be used, the very places we expected we needed to hide.
The main passage I want you to see today is all of Scripture…the whole thing…nearly every story.
There’s a guy named Abram, and God decides the name Abram is not bold enough for him so he changes his name to Abraham. Why?
“No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.” – Genesis 17:5
A few lines later we read…
“As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name … I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” – Genesis 17:15-16
This was ridiculous and a place of pain. Abraham and Sarah were not only childless, but they were old.
Directly at the bull’s eye of your vulnerability, your weakness, maybe even your sense of failure, in that culture, a sense of shame: “That’s where I want to use you,” God says. “Right there, in that point of weakness, that point of embarrassment, that point of regret in your life.”
Ultimately, Abraham and Sarah give birth to Isaac, and the story continues.
The people of Israel are enslaved in Egypt, and God raises up a leader to free them. Because Moses has a speech impediment and is fearful of leading…Moses says this to God:
“Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” – Exodus 4:10
Directly, at the bull’s eye of Moses’ greatest weakness, greatest insecurity, a point of woundedness, God says: “That’s where I want to use you.”
For decades Joshua stood behind Moses. Joshua was Moses’ assistant. Moses protected him from the bright lights of the stage, so to speak. Now Joshua is taken from behind the scenes and thrust to the front. This happens just as the Israelites are on the brink of taking the promised land.
God says this to Joshua:
“Alright Joshua, here’s the good work I have prepared for you. Here’s how we’re going to start. You know that city Jericho?”
Joshua had heard of it. “Sounds good,” Joshua says, “what kind of weapons do we get? Chariots, horses, flaming swords?”
“No. None of that,” God says, “You get trumpets, Joshua. That’s what you get.”
Joshua 6 reads:
The Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand … You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat….” – Joshua 6:2-5
In the history of warfare you have never heard a more ridiculous strategy: “March around the city, blow your horns, and shout.” Seven days later, Jericho fell with a mighty crash.
God taps Joshua at a moment of weakness. The man Joshua had led behind for decades was now gone. God then sends Joshua into battle with less of an army and more of a marching band.
“That’s how I want to use you,” God says. “I want you to conquer through weakness not through your strength.”
Story after story in the Scriptures continue to reveal this same strategy. Whether people named Jehoshaphat or Jahaziel or Esther or Deborah. The list goes on and on.
God uses a weakness, a weak moment, not to power up and raise up, and arm up, but to show us where the true power lies.
What is Jesus’ most powerful moment? What is the moment when he does the greatest good for humanity?
At what point does he say, “I’ve done it. I’ve accomplished what I came to do.”?
Many of us have heard it so much we miss it. His greatest achievement was his greatest defeat.
- He’s arrested.
- He’s jailed.
- He’s tortured.
- He’s hung on a cross.
And at the end of all that Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30
Hundreds of years before, speaking of this very moment, Scripture tells us:
“…by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
It is by his wounds, his weakness, his suffering that healing comes to the rest of us.
- Not by his eloquence.
- Not by his wisdom.
- Not even by his teaching.
Even when it comes to God’s very own Son, when he wants to use him for the greatest of goods, he doesn’t search of a moment of strength in Jesus’ life, he uses a moment of profound weakness and vulnerability.
Paul knows the Scripture. He knows the stories. He knows everything I’ve just shared and more, and he holds it all up to his life, and he too puts the pieces together.
Listen to what Paul says about how God uses him:
I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Paul understood. So much so, that he began to delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships because it was through those that God got to display his power.
One more passage. This one to give us a highly practical next step.
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. – James 5:16
This could be personalized in many different ways. Here are just a few that come to mind:
- “Confess your fears to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” – James 5:16
- “Confess your wounds to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” – James 5:16
- “Confess your insecurities to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” – James 5:16
- “Confess your worries to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” – James 5:16
- “Confess your addictions to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” – James 5:16
- “Confess your hurts to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” – James 5:16
I could go on and on.
Two things happen when we step into a circle of trusted people with whom we can be open.
1. The first is our own benefit.
When I enter into friendships with a few trusted people, and I confess to them, “Here’s what’s going on in my life, here’s what I’m dealing with, here’s where I’m hurting, or where I’ve failed, or where others have failed me.” The act of doing that, and then letting that group pray over me…it’s POWERFULLY HEALING.
My life is changed in that moment.
But that’s not the only thing that happens.
2. Their life is changed, too.
That act, that vulnerability, that risk: it does something not just in me, but it does something deeply profound in the lives of those I open up to.
One of our values at Gateway is to help us all learn to live connected. “Live connected” is the movement from strangers to acquaintances, from acquaintances to friends, and from friends to transparent community.
In other words it’s a process, and it takes time, but there is a movement from stepping out of the shadows as a stranger and others as a stranger to you. To having a group of people you’re at least acquaintances with, to then developing a group of friends, and ultimately that group of friends being the kind of people you can be transparent with. They know what’s truly going on with you and you know what’s truly going on with them.
What would it be like if each and every one of us, we were living connected. We were strong horizontally—relating to each other—and vertically—relating to God.
God sees your pain.
He cries with you.
And loves to come alongside you, shine through you, and bring hope and healing to yourself and others.”