Monday, July 12, 2010

Wounded healer

Over the past few weeks I've been engaged in a humbling and painful dance with what some would call burn-out, others may call break-down. (Or maybe God just sent a worm to eat the plant I was sheltering under.)

I say a dance, but it's not very elegant; more like a drunken stagger. But - very, very strangely - there's a beauty in it, too. How to explain...

Maybe this would help. Recently a friend sent me a description of a vision he'd had while he was praying. He saw, he said

A man holding up a spear asked God, standing next to him where he should aim. He wanted to make the maximum impact on the world around him. God took the spear out of his hands and pierced the man's own hands with it. Wounded hands aren't able to slap faces, or even hold much. Wounded hands are tender. With pierced hands the man was much more able to show compassion.

This followed something quiet, but moving, that had happened to me a couple of days earlier. Arriving at my brother- and sister-in law's house (another Jesus Army community house) for dinner, I unexpectedly 'heard God' as I climbed the steps to their front door. (One of those 'thoughts I didn't think' you come to recognize as a Christian).

I'm making you a wounded healer.

'Strange' I thought, 'Isn't there a book called that..?' - and that was all I thought, at the time. But later that night I glanced at my brother-in-law's bookshelf (in a room I rarely visit) and there was the book - The Wounded Healer (by Henri Nouwen). So I'm now reading it - and finding it's the kind of book that reads me as much as I read it.

God moves in mysterious ways, as the old hymn puts it. Somewhere, even in painful and seemingly meaningless times, He is working out something of beauty in our lives.

I once heard this described as a wondrous tapestry: just a tangled mess of threads from one side - but when turned round, when finally revealed in its full glory - perfectly beautiful.

The Cross is the ultimate example of this. 'Why have you forsaken me?' cried the bloodied wretched mess of a man nailed to it. And I think he cried it in genuine, agonized despair. But there was a wonderful 'why'. For the joy set before Christ. A Father obeyed. A bride won. A world saved.

I'm not always quite so serene about it. I've had my own very small brushes with the despair of the word 'why' thrown at a brass heaven. Yet, behind it all there is hope. He is hope.

He's making me a wounded healer - and a little more like the Wounded Healer himself.


tschaka said...

I remember that Jesus will be the disabled one in heaven, through his hands funnily enough. The lion is the lamb.

pierscjc said...

I think the tapestry picture came from Corrie Ten Boom - chaos on one side and beauty and order on the other.
Anyway, you're in good (wounded) hands!