I’m blogging through Anne Graham Lotz’s book, Wounded by God’s People, chapter by chapter. If you’d like to join me, get the book from your favourite retailer or church library, and read along. Please share your thoughts on the book as well, either in the comments below, or in your own blog post. If you do blog about it elsewhere, remember to post your link below!
Anne begins chapter two with the questions, “When do wounds begin? Who can remember the first one? And who can claim a life without them?”
She tells several horrific stories from her childhood and early adulthood, each involving a memorable wound she suffered from individuals such as a stern Sunday school teacher, a cruel headmistress at a Christian boarding school, and “a distinguished elderly lady [at church who] rose from her seat, walked stiffly over to my mother, and with a stern look pronounced judgment on me…”
As she describes this series of wounds, each carried out by Christians in authority, I’m reminded just how deeply familiar she is with the kind of pain and injustice believers are capable of. Her pain makes her relatable to those of us who’ve suffered similar injuries.
Throughout the book, in addition to telling her own story, Anne takes a close look at the life of Abram’s Egyptian servant, Hagar. In this chapter, she introduces a story from Genesis 13 about Lot’s conflict with Abram, interpreting these events through Hagar’s eyes. After seeing the positive difference God made in Abram’s life, Anne focuses on the way Hagar must have felt afterwards, when Abram treated her so unjustly. For anyone who’s been in Hagar’s shoes, there’s a temptation to let our wounds turn us into wounders. This is Anne’s transition to the next chapter, where she takes a closer look at this cycle of being wounded and wounding others in return.
Probably one of the chapter’s highlights, for me, is the decision Anne made years ago that she wouldn’t let rotten ‘Christian’ behavior interfere in her relationship with God. This point resonated with me because it reflected my experience, thanks to the example my parents set during a number of deeply painful encounters with fellow Christians. As a pastor’s kid, I had seen several church leaders manipulate and take advantage of my parents, and yet their relationship with God never changed. As they modelled for my brother and me, once they recognized a situation to be toxic, when people resisted healing and growth, then it was time to find a healthier community. After a couple difficult experiences, we did find a healthier church which had recently come through its own heartache. As their pastor, Dad’s first task was to lead the congregation’s healing process, and in turn, they were a balm to our wounds as well. We found healing together. Meanwhile, my parents’ relationship with God didn’t change. If anything, it was only made stronger.
It was in this church that I became baptized as a teenager. I had been attending a Christian high school with great teachers, great programs, and a good student body. Except, unfortunately, for my class, it seemed. Over the span of four years I languished at the bottom of a very unforgiving social food chain. So when I got baptized, one of the main points in my testimony was that I had made my commitment to God in spite of the un-Christlike witness of many of my Christian peers at school.
I’m reminded of the ‘sinners’ Jesus befriended during His time on earth, and how much they loved Him in spite of the hateful treatment they experienced from the Pharisees. And remember the woman caught in adultery? How different could their reactions have been: The Pharisees wanted to stone her, whereas Jesus gave her another chance at life. It was the difference between Jesus and the Pharisees that drove people to Jesus. In a way, I can say that happened to me as well.
It would be an honour if you chose to join me in reading through Anne Graham Lotz’s book, Wounded by God’s People. I’ll be reflecting on each chapter here on my blog, and I’d love to hear your reflections too.
Thanks for joining me today!