The wounded healer
The wounded healer
The telephone rang in my office. It was a dark, rainy afternoon. Billowing clouds hung ominously in the sky. Inside, another tempest was brewing.
The last couple of years in ministry had been difficult, and I was contemplating my resignation as an officer. I was frustrated, hurt and ready to call it quits. My heart was heavy as I answered that telephone.
Little did I know that the prayer in my heart was about to be answered. A local pastor was calling to donate some food to our soup kitchen. I politely said I would be right over.
I pulled into the driveway of the church, parked at the adjacent gymnasium structure and knocked on the front door. The pastor ambled to the door and welcomed me in. He led me to the kitchen where the food was all nicely wrapped and ready. But then, something truly remarkable happened.
I had come for food to feed others, but the Lord had other ideas in mind. I needed nourishment of the heart – for I was weary, worn and at the end of my rope. Pastor Steve began to talk about his ministry, and gave me a brief tour of the building. We chatted for a few more minutes and it felt like I was in a safe place, far away from judgment and ridicule, and so I shared with him my hurt.
I told him about the heartache I had experienced in ministry, and the wounds inflicted on the pastoral battlefield. It was like letting go of a burden I had been carrying for far too long. He understood.
He didn’t say, “You just need to try harder”, or “Perhaps you aren’t walking with the Lord enough”, or even “Maybe you’re just not cut out for ministry”. Instead, he just listened.
He let me expose the festering wounds in my heart that refused to heal. I had not been able to articulate them, let alone face them, before. But here, in a gym kitchen, I bared the wound and infection to the light.
Leaning on a stainless steel island in a small kitchen, he prayed for me, and the power of the Holy Spirit began working in my heart. I can’t tell you that I was miraculously healed in an instant, but the pain, bitterness and hurt started to mend.
I was a broken vessel in need of repair, and the hands of God were more than willing to remould me. Dare I say that the pastor was only the conduit, while the Lord applied much-needed salve to a wounded life.
Pastor Steve asked if it would be okay if he contacted a couple of other pastors that he knew, and if we could all meet over breakfast sometime soon. I accepted the invitation and left with the food in my hands.
I had come to receive food for people in need, when I was also in need myself – in need of spiritual nourishment and hope. I walked away from that encounter a little lighter.
A short while later, Pastor Steve called and, true to his word, invited me to breakfast with a group of pastors. I found a group of guys who loved being with each other.
They laughed together over coffee and toast. I felt as if I was being welcomed into a fellowship I didn’t deserve, and yet here they were warming my heart. Over the course of the next few months, I met with this group every couple of weeks.
There wasn’t any agenda except to encourage and pray for one another. I am forever grateful that Pastor Steve stopped on his journey to pick up another weary traveller.
It was a divine appointment that stands as a turning point in my life, and helped to heal my wounded heart.
Captain Scott Strissel is the Divisional Youth Secretary and Divisional Candidates’ Secretary in the Midland Division, USA Central Territory. He blogs at pastorsponderings.org