~ image used from steveabickford.com
I recently watched the movie Ragamuffin, about the life of Christian singer/songwriter Rich Mullins. If you don’t know who Rich is, think Awesome God. In general the movie was pretty decent, as Christian media goes. For a lower budget movie they did well. Regardless of some cheesy acting moments, the message is what resonated most with me.
Rich’s early life was marked by a hurt that is most easily identified as “the father wound.” In his book, Strength in Weakness, Andrew Comiskey writes,
“Though the Father intended for us to be roused and sharpened by our fathers, we find more often than not that our fathers were silent and distant, more shadow than substance in our lives. This kind of a “shadow” presence is not what our heavenly Father intended for our relationships with our earthly fathers.
Unfortunately, few fathers follow the injunction of Proverbs 27:17: ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.’”
This silence and distance causes a deep hurt that most men are not able to identify, and many times men are left unable to explain. Unfortunately, this often creates a roadblock on our way to God, and leaves us feeling dark, empty and longing. “The father wound” is responsible for many men never experiencing freedom.
Eventually Rich heard a priest, Brennan Manning, preach a sermon that changed everything for him. In his sermon, Manning said, “I am convinced that on Judgment day, Jesus is going to ask us one question: ‘Did you believe that I loved you?’” This one question profoundly impacted Rich and he began to consider how he would answer. Sadly, Rich continued to struggle with the demons and hurts of his past, played out mostly by separating himself from others and heavy drinking. Rich and Brennan became friends and eventually Brennan invited him to retreat, both physically and spiritually, into God.
It was during his retreat that Rich was finally able to receive God’s counsel and healing for childhood wounds. The community and friendship that Brennan offered Rich was a vital part of Rich’s healing. At the end of his time spent in retreat, Rich was able to answer Jesus’ question with a “yes.” It is our hope as Christians that we can say “yes Lord, I believed You loved me and I tried to shape my life as a response to it.” For so many of us, we don’t know how we would answer that question; or worse, our answer would be “no, I never really believed.”
Healing and wholeness begin with believing unequivocally that Jesus really does love us. Believing in His love for you, in a world filled with much hurt and rejection, may seem like a fool’s errand. But this is the beauty of the love of Christ! In a culture that tells us to try harder and be better, Jesus says, “Just believe that I love you.” To help us in our belief, God has given us two things: His Holy Spirit and His Church.
Jesus promised that God would send His Holy Spirit to comfort and counsel. As we press into God, through intentional personal prayer and reading His Word, the Holy Spirit provides for our deepest needs. As God’s words wash over us, they provide for healing – filling the areas that feel empty.
The Church is also a necessary part of healing. In James 5 we’re told, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” The idea of “suffering” here is better translated as affliction. Likewise, the idea of illness is both physical and emotional and speaks to a deeper hurt than some simple seasonal flu. James is acknowledging and calling attention to the existence and reality of Christians, who, even in their confession of Jesus as their Lord, still suffer from deep hurts and feelings of inadequacy. It is in community we are able to acknowledge these feelings and seek prayer with others whose faith is able to cover any lack in us. Community is also one of the best places to experience God’s love. And not just love as we understand it, but God’s genuine, deep and radical love. His love changes everything and reveals the real you; the beloved of God.
If the reality you are living is a dark one, find community. With that said, I realize “just find” community is no small task. So, if you’re in the Northern Virginia/DC area, get a hold of me; I’d love to meet you. We can also connect at The Whole Man FB Page.
Following are a few other communities I recommend. These guys have all worked through a lot of the same things that challenge us today; and Jesus brought them through and now they’re free in Him.
In Birmingham, AL: True Blue Tribe (this is also a great FB community) or Route 1520 (mainly focused on freedom from porn and sex addiction)
In Cheyenne, WY: Element Church (My friend Jeff Maness is the lead pastor and they have some great, home-based, small groups)
In Seoul, Korea: REDCON One Ministries
There is also Celebrate Recovery. No matter where you live, you will find a group on their Locator page.
My hope is if Jesus asks us this question on Judgement day, as many of us as possible will be able to answer, “Yes Lord, I believed You loved me!”
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