God gives me strength and stamina every day. Over the recent months, my husband has had two bouts of pneumonia by aspiration; it’s exactly what my daddy has had. Danny is out of the hospital now, but has home healthcare and a team of friends to help. I don’t feel rested or refreshed, but I’m in good health. And God gives me droplets of blessings; words from his Word.
This has made me think of Moses asking to see God’s glory (in Exodus 33). God puts him in the crest of the rock and has his hand on him. And then God removes his hand. So in a very hard place, Moses feels abandoned. And then God passes by, but Moses only sees the backside of it.
God has put me in a hard place, and at times I don’t feel his presence at all, but I can look back on yesterday, or last week, or the hospitalization – the two months Danny was in hospital and rehabilitation – and I can see how God has brought us the right doctors and nurses, and how he’s taught me so much. Like Moses I see God’s character and his faithfulness; his goodness and strength. Faith doesn’t go on feelings; faith is rooted in the word of God.
I didn’t intend to write Wounded by God’s People so personally. When I finished The Magnificent Obsession, which is my book on Abraham, the story of Hagar stayed with me. And so I went back and did a Bible study on it, and felt impressed that God wanted me to write on Hagar. I ended up taking four years to write it, going deeper and deeper in my understanding not only of being wounded but being a wounder.
While I was writing, I was deeply wounded. I waited for about two months to do an act of kindness, because I was so stunned by the wounding. But God clearly popped something very precious into my mind that I could do for her. About a month later I received a perfunctory note on her business letterhead, in which she barely thanked me. But I knew that my act had set me free – I can still be surprised at what she did, but the pain is gone and I live in my forgiveness.
If you don’t deal with your sin, then you cover it up; you keep blaming; you build a wall. And that’s something I’ve seen since I’ve written Wounded: very few people have the courage to look at themselves and see when it’s their fault. We’re so self-deceived and have such a positive image of ourselves! Some might pray for the Lord to show them their spiritual blindspots, but they do so with one eye squeezed shut while rationalizing their actions.
I want to learn from people backpedalling and defending themselves, for I want to be wide open and honest before the Lord, so that when I’ve hurt someone I can see it and know it and do my best to set it right.
If you told me during my year of exile, when I wasn’t attending church, that I had to go back to church, I would have bucked. I wasn’t ready. But when the time was right, my husband and I went back, and it’s been a blessing. There’s a time we need to get out and catch our breath and get a good perspective, but when God sends us back, then we say, “Yes Sir.” Maybe not to the same congregation, but we can be obstinate in our exile if we ignore God’s prompts.
Pastors and people on staff at church have been devastated by those in their congregations. It’s not just people in the pew. I don’t know what in the world we’re thinking when we treat each other like this – it’s heart-breaking to hear the stories. But I know God can use it. And I know what he’s taught me in the story of Hagar. We can get free of the bitterness, and from being bogged down in the mire of resentment and anger and all those imaginary conversations.
One of my friends read Wounded after she caught her husband having an affair. They were working things through in counselling when she asked me whether she had to offer the woman forgiveness. I said no, there are boundaries. You can forgive him – and living with a man who betrayed her, her days are filled with acts of kindness – but not to approach the woman, for she hadn’t acknowledged her wickedness and was still trying to seduce the husband.
Jesus offers us forgiveness of every and any sin, but we have to confess our sins, saying the same thing about them that he does – we have to be brutally honest. Then we’re forgiven of all that sin and unrighteousness. But there’s only so much he can do when we’re rationalizing and defending. You’re not going to have an intimate relationship with a holy God as long as you’re excusing your sin. The same thing is true with another person.
Women speaking and praying in church? I make an application from John 20, John and Peter at the empty tomb. You can hear their sandals running out of the garden when Mary Magdalene comes along. She’s weeping and the angel says that Jesus isn’t here, and then she sees a gardener who calls her by name. And it’s Jesus. But Jesus was there all along; he withheld himself from Simon and John, revealing himself first to Mary and then the other women. He instructs Mary to tell the disciples what she’s seen and heard. He wants the women to share their testimony, their encounter with the risen Christ, giving his disciples the instructions to meet him in Galilee. His disciples are a group of men behind locked doors in Jerusalem. Mary goes right back to tell them, but they think she’s a hysterical woman. So they postpone God’s blessing in their lives.
Jesus makes a poignant lesson that the church seems to have missed – that women can be disciples; that he reveals himself to them in fresh and significant ways; that he himself commissions them to share not only their testimony but also his word. But we have to be careful to let God give us a ministry and not try to make one for ourselves because we want the position or prestige.
Books I love? Joel Rosenberg’s novels. He’s a converted Jew who writes biblical prophecy in novel form and then it comes true! One of his latest is The Damascus Countdown. He teaches us about the Shiites and Sunnis and the Muslim culture. Another is Tom Doyle, Dreams and Visions. Every chapter tells a different story of a Muslim to whom Jesus just shows up. It seems to be the untold story of tremendous revival in the Middle East. Another is The Forgotten Blessing by a Jewish rabbi who is now a believer, Aaron Fruh, about the blessing that fathers give their children and wives. I know people who put it into practice and what a difference it makes in the home. And I love Davis Bunn’s novels. One of the best was Lion of Babylon. I wrote him to thank him for it, and he wrote back and said, “Anne, did you see it was dedicated to you?” I said no! I had seen an early manuscript, so I bought a copy and there it was! I was very moved by that.My interview with the well-known Bible teacher appeared first in Woman Alive in April. With thanks to my friends there for permission to include on my blog.