While driving recently, I caught a snippet of a radio interview with Contemporary Christian musician Jason Gray. Although I had probably heard some of Gray’s music before, I was unfamiliar with him and his story. When he speaks, he does so with a significant stutter. During the few short minutes I listened to him, Gray related how he used to fear this imperfection might disqualify him from being used by God.
Gray recorded a song called Everything Sad is Coming Untrue. When he sings, his stutter surrenders to the music and disappears. In his life, and through song, Jason Gray is telling the story of creation, fall, redemption and restoration. Everything broken by sin is being made new.
And Gray said he finds sweet revenge in turning his brokenness around and using it as a weapon against hell itself.
Gray’s story reminded me of those of so many others, those who bear wounds of the enemy but refuse to surrender to him. I think of Emily, host of imperfect prose, and her heroic battle against anorexia. It grieves me to think of how close this world came to losing this beautiful soul, artist, wife, and mama. Instead, as she paints and writes and tells her story, she is helping wounded others find courage to persevere in their own battles.
I think, too, of my friend George Dennehy who bears in his body visible evidence of the enemy’s work. Born with no arms, and adopted from a Romanian orphanage, George is a musician who uses his platform to spread the message: God doesn’t make junk.
When George was a young boy, a compassionate friend from church designed and built a stand for him so that he could learn to play cello with his feet. When he reached his teen years and wanted to play something cooler than the cello, George took up the guitar. A video of him covering a song by the Goo Goo Dolls went viral and, when the band heard about him, they invited him to perform with them at one of their concerts. Wearing a t-shirt printed with the words Intelligently Created superimposed over a giant thumbprint, George sang with the band:
When everything’s made to be broken, I just want you to know who I am.
I know who Emily and George are. They are both wounded warriors who are turning their brokenness into weapons pointed right back toward the enemy.
And there are so many other wounded ones whose names fill my prayer journal, sitting in classrooms and pews, whose broken places aren’t nearly as evident.They wrestle with learning disabilities, OCD, depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies. They sense deeply that they are different and experience shame in not measuring up to their peers, or to expectations of themselves and others. They have been told to try harder, act more responsibly, and believe more deeply.
And I wonder who is going to help them see beyond their brokenness to the gifts they possess. My heart grieves for those who believe their weaknesses somehow disqualify them from service when they might be the mightiest warriors of all. I pray for God’s people to come alongside them, walk faithfully with them, build them their music stands, and help them unleash their songs. I long for them to know that he loves them, not because of what they are able to do, but simply because he loves them. And that where they are weak, he is strong.
This week, Ann Voskamp wrote about these wounded ones, and her words continue to haunt me:
So we pretend you don’t exist, so we can pretend the sin that caused this wound doesn’t exist — because ultimately, our actions prove it, we don’t really think the Wounded Healer exists.
That God can raise up phoenixes from ashes, that He is and this. is. what. He. does.
What if God gave his people eyes to see, and faith to believe, he truly is the Wounded Healer? And that everything sad really is coming untrue? What might that look like? And who in your life might need you to find sweet revenge in transforming brokenness into a weapon against hell itself?
Think about these things while watching George’s performance:
Emily Wierenga is the author of Chasing Silhouettes: How to Help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder, now in its second printing. Her new book, Mom in the Mirror, will be released on Mother’s Day and is now available for pre-order.
Joining emily and Jennifer: