I am a wounded healer who dances with a slight limp

For a month in 1623, John Donne and his doctors believed he was suffering (and likely dying) from the bubonic plague. Donne was able to do little more than write, which he did—journaling a series of meditations on his wrestling with God. He titled his work “Devotions”.


On reading “Devotions”, author Phillip Yancey reflected on his own season of weariness and wrote the book “Undone”. Yancey notes: “A measure of shame seems to accompany disability or illness. Donne experienced and wrote about such shame. My journaling expressed my own deep shame, a shame rooted in my belief that I was now weak, flawed, and a failure. This dark hovering cloud of shame is an innate shame in inconveniencing others for something that is neither your fault nor your desire.  Together, depression and anxiety are a two-headed monster. When depression, anxiety, and shame link arms, the days are a downward spiral.” 


“Depression has a way of sitting down heavily on your back. It plans to stay a while.” (Ramon Presson)


It is easy to disregard a season of depression as being without purpose.  However, the Apostle Paul thought differently: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Cor 1:3-4).  


I love the challenge of Henri Nouwen. He calls us to become “wounded healers“. He pronounces: “And if I am a wounded healer, who having fiercely wrestled with God, now dance with a slight limp, then so be it.”

Stand up and dance, no matter your season of unbalance.


The encroaching darkness was frightening.  Her body had betrayed her

Over the years, Sandy ministered to many people.  She was a nurturer and she mothered people and pointed them to Christ.  An outgrowth of her job was helping to take care of the employees from Central America.  Sandy had a big heart.  One time she took on the local justice system when one of the workers wound up in jail.  If Sandy thought something was wrong, she would go to great lengths to make things right; she was a tigress. 


It was quite a shock when what Sandy was diagnosed with breast cancer.  The doctor at first thought it was just an infection, but after an unsuccessful course of meds further testing was done and she was given the diagnosis of cancer.  Sandy had a mastectomy and then started the dreaded chemotherapy.  She would have a course of chemo, get quite ill, start to feel better and then have to go for more chemo.  The chemo was followed by radiation. 


During the course of these therapies, Sandy’s lovely red hair fell out and her skin developed nasty painful rashes.  She had always been strong physically and now found herself imprisoned in a sick and alien body. Through the relentless progress of the disease, Sandy endured.  That final summer of her illness we discussed the question: “What happens when all there is left, is God?”


Have you ever thought about Jeremiah of the Bible?  The dumped him in a slimy stinking mud of a cistern.  It had not been a winner season for him.  A look at Jeremiah 38 bears witness to a most disheartening progression of events.  As a preacher, Jeremiah faced a audience that didn’t pay any attention to his message.  God turned up the heat on Israel with an invasion by the Babylonians. Falsely accused of being a turncoat, Jeremiah was beaten and imprisoned in a dungeon for a lengthy period. Then came the terrible cistern.  The narrative tells us that he was so mired in the mud. When finally released it took thirty men pulling on ropes to lift Jeremiah out of the mud’s suction.


What did Jeremiah find in that dark cistern?  Stuck and in the dark, all he heard was the dripping of water. All light fades.  During her final weeks of life, Sandy found her sight deteriorating because the cancer had spread to her brain.  The encroaching darkness was frightening.  Her body had betrayed her and the only place of safety was in the arms of the Savior. 


Psalm 46 paints a picture of a world in which the mountains are quaking, the seas are surging, and the earth is giving way.  Everything depended on in the past falls away.  Yet, verse seven says, “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”  It is one thing to consider God as with us and quite another to consider God as actually being our fortress. 


In that dark cistern, what did Jeremiah find ?  What did Sandy discover when her eyes lost sight?  Stability has flown the coop.  All constants disappear. One thing remains: God. In that moment, God is enough.  Ask God to open your eyes to His fortress of love.


God pulls me out of myself, my own worries and upheavals into the Universe where He rules.  God speaks to me the best when I shut up and listen.

I am addicted to a British TV show called “The Repair Shop”. The show’s premise is that everyday people bring in family heirlooms which are then repaired and resuscitated for their owners by experts with a broad range of specialties. No one is charged for the work and people are jubilant to see previous pieces which have been mangled over the years, restored to beauty. I love to see beauty brought out of brokenness.


In my living room exists my own unique repair shop. In a corner sits a recliner which is not a family heirloom. It was a Costco special. Next to it is an adjacent couch, also not an heirloom. What makes the recliner special is its daily use.  I sit there and picture Jesus on the adjacent couch. The regular conversations that take place at my recliner have been golden. Beauty is created from brokenness.


To the left of my recliner are the tools:

  • My journal
  • Prayer Point” (a Bible reading guide published by Samaritan’s Purse)
  • Open Doors World Watch List 2024 (the top 50 countries I need to be praying for regarding persecution)
  • Valley of Vision” – a collection of Puritan prayers that are a great jumpstart for the days when I feel my prayers are rather dusty.


But the most valuable tool is my battered and marked up Bible.  I’ve run a lot of miles with it; written notes upon notes in the margins regarding things God has pointed out to me when I’m reading it. 


I’m one of those people who need to have relative quiet while I’m at the shop. Total concentration is necessary. It’s not all about me. God voice needs to be clearly heard. Some days it is difficult when I’m wandering through Leviticus – it may seem dry as dirt (often a match for my soul).

God pulls me out of myself, my own worries and upheavals into the Universe where He rules.  God speaks to me the best when I shut up and listen. 


If you are already a believer (you have trusted Jesus Christ alone to make your life new) then having a Soul Repair Shop is one of the best things you can do. Your shop may look different than mine – better furniture, location, or it may even take place in a parked car.  Wherever, this is the place you meet God and implore Him to do His work. 


Just a warning, work in the Repair Shop can be a little painful. There have been numerous times where God has told me in no uncertain terms to repent, to eat humble pie, and to let go of prized projects. I have to keep remembering that He is the restoration expert, not me.

For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.  And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, and revealed to the eyes of Him with whom we have to give account.(Hebrews 4:12-13)


Except for the Word of God, the tools God uses in your Repair Shop may be a little different, but the main thing is to consistently permit Him to do His work.  That’s why it is vital to keep that daily appointment.  Do you want your broken parts made beautiful? Is it possible for God to make you clean?  Perhaps you also need to get addicted to “The Repair Shop”, but not the BBC version – God’s version.


In an instant, death had arrived

A young man filled with great promise.  Lots of friends. Star of his basketball team. I can still remember the anguished wailing of his girlfriend. At the prime of life, in a second his life ended in a car accident. Sam was now laid out in a casket.  Everything changed.


In John 20:1-18, everything changed for Mary Magdelene.  She witnessed the darkness of the last moments of the Savior hanging in agony. Humiliated, tortured, and executed, He breathed His last breath.  “It is finished.” Her anguished cries filled the air. Everything changed.


Now is the time to pay her respects and give her beloved Rabbi the funeral He deserves. Tom Lynch, writer and undertaker, wryly comments: “As a general rule, dead folks don’t do a lot for themselves.  They can only have things done TO them.” But she discovers the stone sealing the tomb is rolled away! One heartbreak after the other.  Will it never stop? Mary cries, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

An odd duo races to the scene. John, the disciple who Jesus entrusted to care for His mother Mary.  Then there is Peter, the coward who denied ever knowing Jesus.  At the tomb the guys see the strips of linens the body had been wrapped in. Someone must have stolen the body!


Ray Stedman comments, “One of the striking phenomena of the Gospels is the deafness of the disciples to the consistent revelations of Jesus concerning his resurrection. He had great difficulty convincing them that He was going to die in the first place. It was only as they saw the opposition closing in on Him that they realized His words were true. But even then, none of them seemed to grasp that every time He mentioned His death He also added that He would rise again on the third day.”

Mary Magdelene, overwhelmed with grief, peers into the tomb. An angel asks her why she is crying. She sobs: “Because they have taken away my Lord and I don’t know where they have put him!” Resurrection has not entered her thinking, regardless of what Jesus taught.

Amidst her tears, Mary then hears the voice of the One Who she thought was the gardener.  He whispers her name, “Mary.” Everything changes.


Mary turns and cries, “Rabbi!”  She sees the risen Christ. The empty tomb is the monument which displays the victory over sin’s curse.  The final enemy has been conquered. Nothing remains the same.


So then, how do we choose to live? It’s easy to forget everything changed. “Martin Luther once spent three days in a black depression over something that had gone wrong. On the third day his wife came downstairs dressed in mourning clothes. ‘Who’s dead?’ he asked her. ‘God,’ she replied. Luther rebuked her, saying, ‘What do you mean, God is dead? God cannot die.’ ‘Well,’ she replied, ‘the way you’ve been acting I was sure He had!’(recounted by Ray Stedman)


“Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!”  Is this how you choose to live each day with the Savior Who has risen?  Or, do you choose to be the one mourning at the tomb, all your dreams dashed with no power to face another hour? The good news of Easter is: everything has changed! The victorious risen Christ offers to share His life with you.  Your wailing can be turned to joy.  Everything changes with the risen Christ.

Want additional inspiration? Click for the testimony of Jerry Dugan


What have the recent crises in your life, your country, and your world, demonstrated about your love for other believers?

I was giving birth to our first son.  Labor was going into the 2nd day and I had enough.  At that time, Bill was working fulltime, going to college and also leading a ministry.  He normally was wiped out.  I remember screaming at him when he had the nerve around hour #20 of my labor to begin nodding off in exhaustion.  After all, it was all about me and not him.  Right?


Then we come to John 19:17-27, the passage about Jesus’ last hours.  It should have been all about Him, not anyone else.  Right? Jesus is arrested, deserted, tortured, betrayed, listens to religious hypocrites lie through their teeth. Furthermore, he’s forced to drag through the streets the cross on which he will be murdered. He is hanging there with nails through His wrists and feet, the crowds jeering at Him, and the soldiers are deciding who will get His clothes. What does Jesus do? He takes care of Mom.  I think I would be thinking about everything that has just happened to me and the further agonies to come, yet, He takes care of Mom. It’s not all about His own pain.


Does he entrust this task with his biological half-brothers? No, He totally entrusts this with His friend, John.  In Luke 8:19-21, Jesus makes clear that there is a bond deeper than genetics.  My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it. If there is anyone who will faithfully take care of His believing mom, it would be the disciple who showed up at the cross and did not look away – the Apostle John.


Why is this an important distinction? John Piper writes: “Those who hear and do the Word of God have an even greater claim on Jesus’ care than she (Mary). If he took care of her, will he not much more provide for all your needs? If Jesus could provide for the needs of his own in a moment of his deepest weakness and humiliation, how much more can he provide for your need in his present power and exaltation!”


This is both a huge responsibility and benefit for those who are part of the Body of Christ, the church. Our needs are met when we have left everything to follow Jesus. Paul said in Acts 20:28, Christ purchased the church of God with his own blood. Piper continues: “Therefore, one of the gifts Jesus gave to us from the cross was the church: a loving, caring, sustaining, encouraging family beyond family. And it is a great encouragement to our faith that he illustrates the meaning of the church the way he did in the relationship between John and Mary.”


A ground breaking prayer that Jesus prayed for both His disciples and believers in the future is recorded in John 17:20-23. He prays for complete unity among His followers, something that would shake the world.  Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. The product from such unity is the same type of care which Jesus on the cross entrusted John with regarding Mary.  This is what the church is supposed to do better than any other agency on earth – to care for their own.


So, the question is, if you profess to be a believer, how are you caring for other believers? Bishop Wescott wrote, “Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards, they simply unveil them to the eyes of men. Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake or sleep, we grow strong or we grow weak, and at last some crisis shows us what we have become.” What have the recent crises in your life, your country, and your world, demonstrated about your love for other believers? Is it sacrificial love, the kind that will run to the very end? It is not all about you. It is about Christ.


What merits being burned at the stake for simply translating the Bible into English?

And what merits being burned at the stake for simply translating the Bible into English? For William Tyndale’s “sin”, in 1535 he was convicted of heresy and executed by strangulation, after which his body was burnt at the stake. The Catholic Church had found him a dangerous threat to their existence.


In practice, the Catholic Church refused to allow the Scriptures to be available in any language other than Latin. Everyday parishioners could not question the priests’ teachings. Few people other than priests could read Latin. The Church could not get away with selling indulgences (the forgiveness of sins) or selling the release of loved ones from purgatory if people were able to read the Bible in their own tongue. Without these sources of income, the church’s power would crumble.


Furthermore, understanding the contradictions between what God’s Word said, and what the priests taught, would set people free from the grip of fear held by the institutional church. Salvation through faith, not works or donations, would be understood. For this “heresy”, Tyndale was martyred. He gave his life to help produce the English Bible, a version of what may be gathering dust on your bookshelf.


Obedience to God always carries a price. Each time I read the tortuous account in John 19:1-16, I hear the agony which paid for my salvation.  Every tear, scream, and mockery of justice, propelled Jesus Christ toward the cross. Jesus chose to travel through a week of hell. The events in this passage are horrifying to read. Under Pilate’s authority, the soldiers are permitted to use Jesus for a punching bag, scream obscenities into His face and grind a crown of thorns on His head. All of this took place in the lower room of the home of the Chief Priest, the head of the “religious” Jews. They were out for blood.

Pilate, the head of the local Roman government, seems to be scratching his head when he responds to the demands of the Jewish officials, I find no reason to crucify Him. A paraphrase of his following response to them could be, “Do it on your own time. I can’t do it legally.”

Jesus of course, is of no help to Pilate in coming to His own defense. Jesus reminds Pilate, You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. 


The Jews threatened Pilate. If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar. Pilate knows that kind of talk can lead to his personal demise.  He is only there by the appointment of the Roman government and if word gets to Rome that Pilate has allowed an insurrection in Israel, Pilate is toast. Pilate gives in to the pressure, sets up court, and ends up handing Jesus over to be crucified.  Understand that the Jewish religious leaders hated being under the rulership of Rome, except they made an exception when it was convenient to their own agenda, which was to murder Jesus.

Pilate again asks, Shall I crucify your king?

The chief priests answer, We have no king but Caesar. So, we have torture, lies, betrayals, a death sentence and a Messiah Who doesn’t call down fire from heaven. How does one process that?


That week was a lesson in total obedience that led to the payment for our sins on the cross and Jesus’ resurrection.  Obedience is the unique mark of true followers of Christ through the centuries. Are you willing to pay the price? To sacrifice your comfort zones and let God plan the agenda? Tyndale paid the price for people to have the Bible in their own language. Jesus gave up His life willingly in the midst of chaos so we can be made new creatures in Christ. Take the challenge: begin to discover what real obedience is by carefully reading that Bible and learning the truth. Afterall, this is the book which so many gave up their lives for you to read.

For further information, strongly suggest listening to “Introduction to the Marian Martyrs” from the podcast, Men Who Rocked the World, by Steven J Lawson


He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and mire.

Image of woman waiting

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.

Image of person in mudpit

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.

Image of Jesus walking alongside

He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. 

Image of music

He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.

Image of many worshipping

Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:1-3)


Strength is scarce. I don’t know what to do with this weakness I feel.

Having lost my beloved job and all that went with it, my life – and I – fell apart. I experienced a four-year dark night of the soul.  My persona, the identity that I’d built to compensate for the inner sense of brokenness, crumbled. I began to look more deeply, mostly because there was no other option. I had to face the pain of my difficult and sometimes traumatic childhood. Whilst often desperate for some relief or solution, it became clear that this was a process of unbecoming, of unravelling.”  (shared by Fiona Robertson)


Have you ever felt that you are also becoming unraveled?  Maybe you knew that an upheaval process might eventually prove for the good, but in the back of your heart have you doubted? Change is painful. Maybe the worst type of change is when the rug is pulled out from under you and you didn’t even realize the rug was loose. In the process, we may actually need to be unraveled; to be taken apart at the seams.


I wondered why I become unusually upset during seasons of change. I came up with a term which seems to fit: “fear of scarcity”. When something is scarce, there is a shortage, a famine, a drought. In my life there are times when I have asked for help, resources, or even love from believers and the supplies offered (or not offered) have been scarce. I adapt to such a life by trying hard not to ask for “too much”.  This fear of scarcity in asking help from people can color how I also view God.  I believe that God loves the world, but hey, couldn’t He be just too busy or short-staffed to personally have time for me? 


Then begins my unravelling.  With the tumult of circumstances, I come to the end of my own resources.  Maybe because of age, maybe because of yet another major change, I lose my resilience.  Strength is scarce. I don’t know what to do with this weakness I feel. I’m on the path to nowhere. I need God to unravel the knots I am in. Have I presumed that my God is too small?


Despite my fears of scarcity, God breathes truth into my soul. His perfect Word states: He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit. (Psalm 147:3-5) Regardless what my heart may feel, God sticks around for the hard work of reworking my life. He truly loves the unlovable and redeems the unredeemable. No matter what I think or how I feel, there is no scarcity with God. He has the strength, the love and the resources to unravel the largest knots which clutter my life.


Do you also need to be unraveled? Are you tangled up in knots of fear? Please know that God has plans and knits together the most beautiful creations. You need not fear scarcity from the Father. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit. Call on Him; His resources are endless. Allow Him to unravel at will – He can be trusted. Fear no more.


The rubber was about to meet the road, so to speak. No more “weekend warriors”, as the National Guard were often referred to. This was the real thing. We were advised to get our financial and legal matters in order.

Iraq invaded Kuwait in the summer of 1990. I was seven months pregnant with my first child. My husband was serving in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard at the time, so news such as that was more than just a front-page headline; it was cause to take notice. As the crisis unfolded, it became apparent that the question was not if my husband Mike would be activated to serve, but rather, when.


The last months of my pregnancy were overshadowed by the uncertainty looming over us. The rubber was about to meet the road, so to speak. No more “weekend warriors”, as the National Guard were often referred to. This was the real thing. We were advised to get our financial and legal matters in order. I was barely holding it together. Praying that the situation would get resolved quickly; knowing that it was not as simple as that. I turned to God, knowing that I could not do this on my own. I did not have enough strength to get through it.


This was a turning point in my life, and in my faith in God and His provision. I leaned into God like never before, asking Him to give me the strength that I needed. With a great deal of hope and more than a little anxiety, I tried to keep my focus on managing one day at a time. As I did, I began to see God work.


In the early months of the crisis, they called other military units. Mike’s unit didn’t receive the call. Home for the birth of our son in October, Mike was called to service late November. His preparation for deployment took place at Ft. Indiantown Gap, so he came home on the weekends leading up to his departure. We were blessed to be able to celebrate Christmas together. Shortly after New Year’s Day, Mike left for the Middle East. I prayed with confidence God would take care of him and all involved.


I knew that God had it all under control. God carried us through this, even though I couldn’t see the future. In ways I never experienced before, I saw God’s faithfulness and care for me. I developed a strength I didn’t believe was possible. God gifted me with visits, phone calls and offers of help from family, friends and neighbors. Admitted to the hospital for gall bladder surgery in April, God worked out everything for me and our newborn. My mom moved in and took care of the two of us. Through the times of loneliness and fear, I felt deeply loved and cared for.


In the book of 2 Samuel, we read David’s story. Thought greatly blessed by God, David fell into grievous sin. Confessing those sins, David didn’t take God’s forgiveness lightly. Even as he experienced the consequences of his sin, David never lost his belief in God’s love and faithfulness. 2 Samuel 22, David writes, The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior…. And in Psalm 91:4, He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.


God is trustworthy. He is faithful. He is working on your behalf in every situation you face. You never have to deal with anything in this life alone. God will be with you, always. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)


They had worked hard for years and deserved the fruits of their labors. What next delightful adventure could they check off?

It was the Saturday for me to attend a promo for a Christian travel agency. The room was packed with well-dressed people; there was standing room only. Cookies and coffee free for the taking were stacked on the long table in the back of the room. Oohs and aahs were heard from the audience as they viewed the promotional videos on the wide screens facing them.  Marianne gave a yelp of delight when she noticed a picture of herself on her trip to Montreal. Tom smiled as he appeared in the group posing on a glacier. 

Many had traveled together before, comfortable that they were making their journeys in a Christian environment. Excitement buzzed through the crowd.  All those new possibilities the crowd could add to their “bucket lists”.  Afterall, they had worked hard for years and deserved the fruits of their labors. What next delightful adventure could they check off?


Unlike my Saturday experience, the Bible notes in John 13:1-7 an event in which no promotional videos are playing on the walls. Only Jesus and 12 men occupy the room.  Unbeknownst to the disciples, it is only hours before the betrayal, trial and execution of Christ.  Quite a few of the guys engage in a dispute over which of them is Jesus’ greatest follower. They want to be the GOAT (“Greatest Of All Time”). Judas remains off to the side, burning with disappointment in the rabbi Who had no plans to free the country of Roman oppression.


In the midst of the noise is Jesus. He knows what is to come, yet decides to show the disciples His personal “bucket list”: to demonstrate the full extent of His love. No exotic vacation for Jesus. No sitting by the pool. Just torture, blood and agony. He has worked three long hard years for this moment.


The day of the supper with Jesus was long, exhausting and dirty. When the group piled through the door of the meeting room, none of the disciples volunteered to help their friends clean up from their travels. Halfway through the meal, the Master stuns them. He stands and quietly fills a basin with water, removes his outer garment, ties a towel around His waist, and kneels in front of the first disciple.  Jesus smiles at the ones He loves dearly and begins to wash their feet, one by one. This is the Savior’s bucket list, to show them the full extent of His love. His love is the definition of complete humility: living the role of a servant and acceptance of execution as a criminal.


As He washes their feet, His words whisper in the disciples’ minds: By this all men (and women) will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. What does such showing the full extent of His love mean? Craig Groeschel comments: “We have to be willing to do what may seem insignificant, what isn’t often visible to others. What you do may feel like it’s behind the scenes, but getting promoted in the kingdom of God is never by self-promotion, it’s always by serving. It’s not about what we do; it’s about who we are.” Another great observation by Dr. Keith Wagner: “You can wash the feet of anyone, but when you fail to love them, you might as well have walked with them through a car wash.”


All those people packed into the room with me on that Saturday afternoon had one thing in common, death eventually enters the picture. The question is, am I packing in my bucket list what matches up to Christ’s plans for me, regardless of how many days I have left on earth? Having loved His own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.”  How am I, and how are you, living out the full extent of His love? What’s on your bucket list?