If this is your first visit to the Everyman Jack blog, welcome; if not, thanks for coming back. If you read my last post, you may remember that I started talking about 8 power-packed verses in Ephesians Chapter 3:
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21
If I had to write a title for this chapter of Ephesians, it would be “Revealing the Mysteries of God.” In my last post I tried to break down the enormity of God’s love, to break down “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18), truly a mystery to us, and put it in terms that we can understand. Today, I’d like to look at another mystery about God illuminated in these verses and one that is very close to my heart, literally and figuratively. Hopefully, you’ll see what I mean:
God’s Ability to Heal Our Inner Being
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Ephesians 3:16,17
As Paul says, God has the power to strengthen your inner being and I believe a huge part of this is healing our wounds and there is definitely a mystery to this.
To begin to understand this mystery, we need to start by thinking of all that happens in your inner being. Things that happen in your inner being would include all of our thoughts, including all of those worries and irrational fears. Our inner being also includes our memories and education and even lectures from parents. My inner being happens to also have every song lyric from Greenday (don’t judge).
For this blog, I want to focus on one, very uncomfortable area of our inner being…our wounds. Think of all the different wounds we have:
- Some kid made fun of you because your nose was too big in high school.
- A girlfriend dumped you.
- Your parents seem to value work more than you.
All that is going on in our inner being affects us. It makes us who we are and a lot of it we don’t even understand. It’s a mystery. Sometimes we think our wounds have been healed when really we have just pushed them down and suppressed them. And whenever they bubble up, we quickly push them down again where they belong. We stuff them down because they hurt and sometimes we are ashamed of them.
Here’s some good news: If you enter that wound and identify it you will be able to use it for a greater good. You see, Christ came to do more than just forgive you and give you your get-into-Heaven card.
Let me paint you a picture. Let’s say you decided to run a marathon. Not sure why you would do that, but you did. So you decide to run a marathon and you spend months and months preparing. Then the day of the event comes and you’re all ready: you’ve got your number, your $200 running shoes, and those really short shorts. Just about half way through the race you trip and your ankle turns over and you hear a loud snap. You’re laying there in pain when all of a sudden Jesus parts the crowd and comes to you. You can tell it’s him because of the beard and the robe. Then Jesus reaches his hand down to you and says, “It’s okay that you’ve broken your leg. I won’t hold that against you. Now go and finish the race!” So you try to get up, but your leg is still broken! Again Jesus says, “Don’t worry about your leg. I’ve forgiven you. Isn’t that great?”
There are a lot of Christians who feel like God came down just to forgive them. These people forget one important part of why Jesus came: Christ didn’t come and say, “I forgive your sins, now carry on! Go do whatever. You’re all good to go.” God wants to not only forgive us, he also wants to heal our wounds, to heal our inner being, so that we can be whole, so that we can live a good and abundant life. Let me show you how that happens:
Healing Step 1: Identify Your Wound
This really is just good, old-fashioned self-awareness. And we are an incredibly self- aware society; we’ve even designed scads of tests to tell us exactly what our strengths and weaknesses are. There is the Myers-Brigg, the Strength Finders test, and the MMPI. There is even a test online that will show you if you are lion, beaver, otter, or golden retriever test; I think I’m actually a howler monkey. In most colleges, you have to take these tests but when it comes to the real stuff in our life, the stuff that hurts, we suppress it down and act as if no one ever has to know even when the truth is that some of these wounds are slowly killing us inside.
Psychologically your wounds actually work as alarms. When someone does something that makes you defensive or angry, you feel that a boundary has been crossed so an alarm or defense mechanism goes off. Maybe you had a really bad experience with your parents growing up and it wounded you deeply. Your dad was never around and now you find it hard to trust people. You feel like everyone is going to leave you. These is not new information I’m sure. Psychologists have been studying this stuff for years. They call them attachment theories. The most common one is the ambivalent theory. Your parents weren’t around much and they were very inconsistent in their love and this leads you to feel disconnected from people and typically you find it hard to have real relationships because you are afraid that everyone is going to leave. Commitment issues, anyone? So identifying this wound may come as you get older. You think to yourself, “Why do I have such commitment issues, and why is it so hard for me to feel close to others.”
God calls us to share our stories, and help others and Henri Nouwen, one of my favorite Christian Authors says it perfectly, “Who can take away suffering without entering it?” To enter into a wound, you first have to know that it exists and then you need to identify what it is and where it comes from. The next step is to:
Healing Step 2: Forgive
Let’s be honest, most of our wounds are the result of others. I can do a whole message on forgiveness, but for right now let me just paraphrase Anne Lammott and say that when you choose not to forgive, it is like drinking rat poison and hoping the rat dies. Max Lucado, another well-known Christian author, says that when you choose to forgive you set the prisoner free…and that prisoner is you.
You cannot heal those inner wounds and stop them from bubbling back up unless you choose to forgive. I’m not saying that you have to forgive and forget. Just say to yourself, “I can forgive right now; I may not forget it, but I am going to extend the same forgiveness to the person who has hurt me that God has showed me.”
If anyone has the right to not forgive, it’s God and yet, he doesn’t ask us to repay the forgiveness he has given us. All he asks us to do is to project that forgiveness onto others. In Christian terms, God is asking us to extend to others the same grace that has been given to us. So if you want healing from a wound, you must forgive the parties involved. We all make mistakes, we all hurt others in some way or another and if we want to receive God’s grace when we do, we need to be willing to give grace to those who have hurt us.
So that’s it! That’s all you have to do to heal those inner wounds once and for all:
- Identify the wounds
- Forgive those who have wounded you
Sounds easier said than done, doesn’t it? The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. If you are willing to enter your wounds, Jesus will go with you so that, like the marathon runner from the beginning of this blog, your leg will heal and you can get up and run your race victoriously all the way to the finish line!