In the fall of 2014, I had the privilege of learning about the “gift” of woundedness. Dallas and I were going through a study, “In Christ’s Image” by Francis Frangipane. He taught about spiritual woundedness and how it is a gift that works to develop Christlikeness in us. I was really struggling with the lesson as I recounted some of the deep wounds that we experienced in ministry and life. So I got a physical lesson to help me better grasp the concepts.
Tuesday September 30, 2014 I was driving to have lunch with a friend. Traffic was heavy and there was a lane closure up ahead so I moved to the middle lane. As we got closer to the closure, traffic stopped completely. I stopped and was waiting at a green light. After verifying that the car behind me had also stopped, I then relaxed and was watching the truck ahead of me to know when I could go. I heard a screech then a pop. It took a moment for me to realize that my car had moved and I had been hit.
I pulled to the right lane as did the car behind me. The driver that hit first pulled into the KFC parking lot. All three drivers seemed to be okay as we got out to check on each other. The fire engine arrived relatively quickly but it took well over half an hour for the police to arrive. After spending over an hour, obviously missing my lunch meeting, I got some KFC and went back to the office. I was the only one of the three cars that was able to drive away as the other two were sufficiently damaged to require being towed.
Injury as a gift
While at first I didn’t think I was hurt, as the day progressed, I became more and more sore. By evening, I was not just sore, but in pain. Apparently, when you get this type of injury, it takes some time for the effects to be felt. On Wednesday, I scheduled an appointment to see the chiropractor and spoke with the other driver’s insurance company.
At the doctor’s office, it was determined that I did have some significant trauma and limitations in movement of my head. For example, there are two motions that should be to 60 degrees, and I was at about 35 one direction and only 15 degrees the other. For the motions that should have been 45 degrees, I was at 22 and 19.
How is this a gift? After the doctor appointment, I called my insurance company and spoke with a nice gal in the Colorado Springs office. She explained to me how the medical payment coverage worked. In short, the state of Colorado requires that my insurance pay my medical bills (up to the coverage I had) and the at-fault driver’s insurance also had to reimburse me for those same medical expenses! On top of that, I would be able to negotiate a one time settlement for pain and suffering and lost work time. As she explained this I said, “college tuition for January”. She seemed a bit taken back, but after telling her that I had three kids in college she said, “Oh, bless you.”
Lessons to learn
Thursday morning as I was showering I was thinking about the events of the prior two days and how my neck hurt. God dropped the words back on me: the gift of woundedness. I laughed out loud. Here I was in pain (wounded) and God was giving us a gift (financial provision) through the pain. I was beginning to understand what He was trying to teach about how we grow from the wounds of our lives.
But it gets better. When I dropped off my car at the body shop to get repaired, I was prepared to get stuck in a small rental car. The gal from the rental company pulled up in a nice SUV! As she was showing me the rental she asked if it would do. I said “Sure, I’ll drive a new car without the payment.” What I was thinking was, “God, you are just too good. I get to drive a fancy new SUV with heated leather seats and more options than I can describe. God, you are awesome!!”
Friday morning, at my doctor appointment, I got to see the X rays. There were several items of good news in the images. Potential injuries that were not present. There was the damage clearly shown as well. The expectation was that I would be able to recover completely. I know for a fact that God was able to touch my body and completely heal me, but I also saw that He was choosing to take me through the process to give me a blessing and teach me.
Through the process, I was able to share with several people, including non-believers, about how God was working and blessing through the accident. I was even in a better mood, despite the pain, as I saw God working.
The doctor explained to me how when we have an injury, scar tissue is formed. Scar tissue is subpar compared to regular tissue. If we allow the wound to just be then we will never fully heal. The scar tissue will harden and cause other problems. If we work through the scar tissue it will break down and be replaced by new healthy tissue.
This is such a good analogy for our spiritual life. In the process of ministry, and life in general, we will get hurt. We then have a choice to make: do we allow the hurt to sit, harden and hinder us, or do we work through the hurt and grow healthy attitudes and responses.
The process of working out the scar tissue was unpleasant at best. I had weeks of chiropractor and massage therapy sessions. I used to think of a massage as a nice, relaxing, enjoyable experience. Massage therapy is much different. I learned that there are muscles under muscles in our necks. In order for the therapist to work these deeper muscles, she had to get underneath the ones on the surface. I would often be on the edge of tears as she worked.
Much like the process of healing from whiplash, there is pain in the process of healing from the hurts of people. We may think that we’ve dealt with the scar tissue but then we realize that there is something deeper to be worked out. The deeper the injury, the more difficult, and painful, the process of healing. But without going deep, we will continue to have hard scar tissue.
Growth through woundedness
So what is the “gift” of woundedness? In life, we will have hurts. Since we are imperfect humans living among imperfect humans, it is inevitable that we will have wounds. These wounds are not to cause us to quit but are part of the process of our spiritual growth. There are so many lessons that I would have never learned had I not been wounded over the years. God has grown me. Before the hurts of ministry, I had goals with regard to business, church, and personal objectives. Now, my goal is to be like Christ. I want to love more, care more, and serve more like Christ.
It is important to note that we may not realize the gift as quickly as we would like. The settlement with the insurance company didn’t come until about ten months later. So, that January tuition money had to come from somewhere else, but it sure did help for a later semester. God’s timing is often different than our desires. He is more interested in our growth through the journey of life than in our instant satisfaction.
The healing process takes time, and it is important that we work through the hurts. We need to practice forgiveness. Regardless of the offender’s response (they may never admit fault or seek to correct their offense), we must forgive in order to move forward. Forgiving is like breaking down that scar tissue. It requires digging deep and a process of sometimes repeating steps. But in the end, we are able to grow healthy tissue.
Praying for God’s Sovereignty
I wrote the following prayer on October 4, 2014: “Lord, I give you everything; my hurts, my wounds, my family, my businesses, my cars, my house and everything that I have. I give you my hopes and dreams. I give you my entire life to do with as you please. All I ask is that you will show me how to be like Christ. Amen.”
Looking back over the past four years, it is amazing to see all that the Lord has done in answering that prayer. There have been so many changes in my priorities. I’ve not yet attained my goal of being Christlike, but I’m closer than I was. My life is nothing like it was before, and I don’t ever want to go back. So today I pray:
Lord, I give you everything; my hurts, my wounds, my family, my ministry, my cars, my house and everything that I have. I give you my hopes and dreams. I give you my entire life to do with as you please. All I ask is that you will continue to mold me to be like Christ. Amen.
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