A Season Of Opening Old Wounds

Some time ago, I was working on a cedar picnic table, and I got a sliver in my hand. It was a busy day, so I didn’t get a chance to pull it out right away, and I forgot about it. Over the next several days, the spot swelled up and became painful until I got a sharp knife and cut the spot open and dug out the piece of wood.

Later, I cut my other hand, and I was “too busy” to stop and slap a bandage on it, so of course it got sawdust and dirt and germs in it before I was through with the picnic table, but the damage had been done. This wound also swelled up and got tender, and I had to open it up, but there was no chunk of cedar to pull out.

A lot of God’s people are like my hands were: we’re wounded, but the wounds are hidden, buried because we didn’t deal with the issues when they were fresh. We have two kinds of wounds: some have slivers in them, foreign stuff that doesn’t belong in our lives, and some are just infected with lies or accusations or bitterness.

The pressing problem with healing old wounds is that they must first be opened. If we’re looking at our wound or our soul, then we encounter the pain first; sometimes we feel all of the pain that put the wound there in the first place and sometimes we have all that topped by the additional pain of having remembered the wound, or feared its opening, for Lo! these many years. However, I believe that God is urging us to not focus our attention on the wound, but on Him, and as we do that, He’ll be our anesthesia: the wound will be opened, cleaned and healed, and we won’t have suffered the same debilitating pain again and again.

Let me prophesy this: we are in a season where God is opening up old wounds in His saints, bringing to the our consciousness things that we haven’t thought about for years or decades. Some, we haven’t ever dealt with, and some we have addressed, but God wants to get the last little specks out of them and clean the wounds.

God wants His warriors healed; He wants us able to fight the enemy without fear that a stray shot will hit our old wounds and knock us out of the battle. His goal is healing those hidden places, and it might hurt for a while, but he’s taking out the foreign stuff, cleaning out the infection.

There are three things that are needed to bring healing in these old wounds:

· First, we must let God take us there, but we look at Him, not at the wound. If He says to repent of stuff, we repent. If He says to forgive folk, we forgive. If He says to make declarations, we make declarations. We need to focus on what He has done, not on what He hasn’t [yet] done. Psalm 37:3 saysDwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness.” If we dwell on His faithfulness, it grows good things. If we dwell on our lack, it grows bitterness and offense.

· Second, we immerse ourselves in good input. This is more than just immersing myself in Spiritual or godly activities, it’s intentionally making place for Him to speak into my life. Worship is a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours. If I use worship to run from the work God is doing, it’s less wonderful, it’s hiding from God and the work He’s up to. But if in worship I open my heart to his scalpel, it’s more profitable for both Him and me. Immersion in the Word – sitting under Its teaching, not marking off pages or studying to teach – brings faster healing. Opening my spirit to anointed teaching CD’s or podcasts, or reading the blogs of radical God-chasing Revolutionaries will be helpful.

· Shut up and move on. OK, that was too blunt. Sorry. How about, “Let’s not complain about the process but instead, let’s position ourselves for growth by aggressively pressing forward into the good things of God.”

· Get over the blame game. We really often blame God (“It must be His will…”) or ourselves (“I must need to learn some lesson from this”). God pretty much never answers the “Why did that happen?” question, but He loves to answer the “How shall I respond?” one.

· Look for the profit. In the Bible, the standard is that stuff that is stolen from us must be repaid seven times. Your wounds, your losses can be seeds for a profitable harvest. But the thief never repays what was taken voluntarily; you must take it back, perhaps violently. It’s called plunder, and it’s yours. But that’s another story.

So don’t be surprised if old hurts come back in the weeks and months ahead: God is bringing an invitation to us: will we let Him clean the wound? Will we let Him heal us? Will we be healed so we can heal others?



Today, I prayed for a dead guy for the first time.

I was at a gathering of a bunch of God chasers, maybe a hundred, and we were in God’s presence, and we were making some declarations. God told someone there that He wanted to heal some folks, and gave some details about people’s intestines, and that person announced God’s intentions. There were some guys that recognized those details and stood up and we prayed for them, and God brought a pretty substantial measure of healing to their intestines.

Then we were worshipping some more, and Mike just got juiced up. A friend of his and mine was in the coroner’s office in another county, looking at the 25-year-old body of William, who was lying on the slab there.

What do we do? We say we believe in healing, and God had just done some of that. We say we believe in raising the dead, and we needed some of that. I know – I really know – four people who have raised the dead in the past, and I have always admired them, and their boldness is part of why I admire them.

So Mike calls our friend and asks him if he’s still there in the morgue (he was) and if it was OK for this company of people to pray for the young man (and it was). So Mike puts the phone on “Speaker”, and invites us to pray.

Suddenly, I’m overwhelmingly aware that I’ve never prayed for a dead guy before. I’ve believed this for decades, but I’ve never had a chance, and here I am, with a chance, and I don’t know what to do. I’m stormed with fears about my own issues, and I’m aware that that’s really not appropriate, so I ask God for compassion, and I go for it. All 100 of us went for it. For a long time.

I was so proud of my troop. This company of people didn’t shy away when facing Goliath. Dead guys are scary. At least when it’s time to pray and they’re looking at you. It’s terrifying. It’s like he’s shouting that he’s taken this kid and he’s not letting go, and why don’t you just give up.

But we didn’t give up. We stood up to Goliath and we looked him in the eye and we spat in his face and we went after it. We didn’t have a clue how to raise the dead, but we went for it anyway. I was so proud of the group: they didn’t chicken out.

But the dead guy didn’t stir, at least as far as I know. (If I find out differently later, you’d better believe I’ll post it here!)

And I’m aware that young William paid the price for our ignorance, our unpreparedness. We were bold, but we were ignorant, and William stayed dead. Jesus commanded us to raise the dead, and our spirits were willing, but we were weak. Our gospel doesn’t have resurrection in it yet, not really.

I want to make this declaration: if we are going to be serious about following Jesus, we need to do what He did. We need to Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. We know how to worship. We know how to pray. We are learning about prophesy and about healing the sick and about casting out demons. We have to get better at all of that, and add raising the dead. We’re good at chasing after Jesus, and we need to get good at doing the stuff that Jesus did.

On the other hand, if I keep hanging out with a troop like this, we’ll get there. The dead won’t be safe in this town.

We gotta do what we talk about. Can we keep up the pace? Can we keep pressing into Him until we get there? Or will we quit early and keep leaving people dead on the coroner’s slab?


Are You In The Right Troop?

I grew up with a great dad. When my brother and I were young, he and a friend of his started a Boy Scout troop for their boys, primarily so they could take us camping a lot. For several important years as I was growing up, we went camping eleven months out of every year.

During the first few years, we were pretty enthusiastic, but not at all skilled. But before long, we developed some actual skill at camping. After a few years, our monthly camping trips got to be less of a trial and a whole lot more fun, our meals more interesting, and we no longer worried about coming back wet, cold and defeated, and we looked forward to the week-long 50- or 70-mile trip in the summer. We didn’t earn as many merit badges as some troops did, but we camped more, and probably had more fun.

One of my friends in the troop was an Assistant Patrol Leader named Bill. He was getting pretty good at cooking over a fire and converting a flat spot in the woods into a comfortable campsite for the weekend. But Bill was not content: his goal was to advance to the rank of Eagle Scout. We’d never had anyone in our troop who was real focused on advancement before.

Before long, Bill figured out that he was among a band of brothers who were fun to camp with, but who had different goals and values from his. He needed to either realign his goals to match his circumstances, or realign his circumstances to match his goals. He chose the latter, and Bill left our troop to join another one that didn’t camp as much, but which raised up Eagle Scouts by the dozens.

Before King David became king, he ran for his life from Saul and hid in the Cave of Adullam. But while he was there, a whole bunch of people left someplace else and joined David’s troop.

1 Chronicles 12:1-2,8: Now these were the men who came to David at Ziklag while he was still a fugitive from Saul the son of Kish; and they were among the mighty men, helpers in the war… Some Gadites joined David at the stronghold in the wilderness, mighty men of valor, men trained for battle,

It’s possible to look at this as disloyalty: “I can’t leave my own people and join with another group, because that’s abandoning my people.” We see wars built on “These are my people and they’re better than another people.” Think of Northern Ireland or Somalia or Iraq.

Sure, there will always be flakes – self-centered opportunists – who wander like cows from one pasture to another, always grazing and never leaving more than manure behind. Get over them. Jesus said, “You will always have the poor among you.” Those people are not “ours” in the first place, they’re just spiritually “poor” and unwilling to change. I’m talking about people who know who they are in Christ, and who have a clue about following His leadership.

If I’ve always been part of the chess club, and I begin to develop more of an interest in backpacking than chess, then maybe it makes some sense for me to depart the chess club and join with the backpacking club.

If my church fellowship is great on teaching the Word, but doesn’t care about worship, then maybe it doesn’t qualify as the be-all end-all supply of God’s resources for me. Maybe I can help them develop a value for worship. Maybe I can start a home group that worships passionately, and so fan the flame in my own heart. Maybe I can visit another group on Friday nights who worships passionately, and maybe I can help my church value worship. But if they decide that they’re happy the way they are and don’t want to grow or change, then perhaps I need to join a troop that values worship.

Or should I stay there, ignore the paucity of spirit growing into spiritual apathy and complacency, simply because I have always been part of that group?

If I do leave the chess club and join the backpacking club (like when Bill left our troop to be part of the troop that understood about advancement) I will leave a set of established relationships and I’ll be starting over with new relationships. It’ll take years to develop good relationships. I’ll be leaving a house where I am known and presumably trusted, and I’ll be joining a group that I have common interests with, but no history of relationship. I’ll be starting over. That’s a real cost, and I need to weigh the cost.

But if the president of the chess club, or some of the young nerds in that club, were to prohibit me from leaving the club, that would be a problem. If I tried to keep Bill from leaving our troop to join the other troop, then I’m screwing up on several levels: I’m abusing Bill’s trust in me, I’m putting my interests above his and demeaning him. More than that, I’m condemning his dreams to the abyss. I may tell myself and him “Hey, our troop has more fun,” but his goal is not fun; it’s advancement, and frankly it’s a higher goal.

Obviously, I’m not writing about Boy Scouts or about chess clubs. I’m writing about the church. We can see the abuse clearly when we talk in terms of Boy Scouts or chess clubs, but sometimes we justify the same abusive behavior when it comes to churches. God is the Commander-in-Chief of the Church, and He has the right to re-assign His soldiers as He sees fit, and who in Heaven’s name do we think we are if we try to hinder His servants from obeying Him?

(Obviously, the question arises of whether the departing church member is in fact hearing God, and hearing Him correctly. I would argue that if we have taught her to hear the Master for himself, then we best not stand in the way of her obedience; if we have not taught her to hear God’s voice herself, then we’ve demonstrated our self-centeredness and affirmed the wisdom of her departure. It’s her decision: her opportunity to succeed or fail. That’s the main lesson of Philemon.)

Someone will bring up the question of the tithes of the family leaving, and since church budgets (and therefore pastors’ salaries) come from tithes, that’s a hot-button issue. “We can’t let them leave because I have a car payment and a kid in college.” Wait a minute, who is my provider? Is it this brother or sister who believes they’re obeying God in leaving, or is God my provider? And do I really believe that? What right do I have to put my budget ahead of her obedience to God?

Enough of the rant. This is a season when we’re approaching the front lines of the battlefield, and General Jesus is transferring soldiers – and high ranking officers – from one battalion to another. We’ve lived with separate streams for a while, and He’s cross-training among the streams now. He’s moving leaders from within a stream that’s strong in worship, but weak in mercy and he’s putting them in a stream that has a need to understand worship and the need for intimacy with God. He’s moving teachers to groups that understand intimacy, but lack a Biblical foundation.

When they (or you, or I) hear the call to a new assignment, certainly it’s appropriate to confirm the matter by the testimony of two or three witnesses. And if I just want to leave because this congregation is challenging me in a place that’s uncomfortable, then I’m in danger of becoming one of those cows wandering from pasture to pasture. That would be a mistake.

But when God is leading, let’s be quick to obey. And let’s encourage our brothers and sisters to obey. If we’re going to err, let’s err on the side of extravagant obedience, not on the side of timidity and security and fear. Let’s look at the bigger picture.

So are you in the right troop? Are they obeying their Master’s call? Can you help them follow their call? Can you become who God has made you to become while you’re there? Or has it just become comfortable? Are you being lulled to sleep?

Wake up! It’s time to be about His business! Plug in with people who are passionate about the stuff God is calling you to! If the people you're with aren't going where you're going, then don't go with them. Find a people going where you want to go, and go with them.