Anne Graham Lotz Reveals Her Heart for the Wounded

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Anne Graham Lotz with her father Evangelist Billy Graham.

Anne Graham Lotz with her father Evangelist Billy Graham. Anne reveals her heart In her recently published book, “Wounded by God’s People“.

Wounded cover image[1]This week I’m tickled pink to introduce a very special guest to you. Her name is Anne Graham Lotz and she’s the founder and president of AnGel Ministries. If I were to list everything Anne’s accomplished thus far in her life … the list would be very, very, long. So quickly I’ll mention just a few of her accomplishments. Anne Graham Lotz has spoken on seven continents, and in more than twenty foreign countries, proclaiming the Word of God in arenas, churches, seminaries, and prisons. She is also the award-winning author of ten books, including The Magnificent Obsession, Expecting to See Jesus, and Fixing My Eyes on Jesus.

Anne Graham Lotz is the real thing. Her love and concern for people’s well-being, especially their spiritual welfare is genuine. When I heard about Anne’s newest book; Wounded by God’s People … I knew that I had to invite her to share her story with you. So without further ado … here’s Anne Graham Lotz. Listen closely to Anne’s words. It’s time for healing of past wounds.

Debra Joy: Anne, on page sixteen of your new book Wounded by God’s People, you wrote: “I have decided to break the silence. As I reflect on the wounds that have been inflicted intentionally and unintentionally on me and on others, I feel it’s time to say something. It’s time to put this on the table and call out the “sin that’s in the camp.””

At what point did you decide to call out the “sin that’s in the camp”? Was it a new or fresh wound that caused you to speak out? An accumulation of wounds? Or was it other people you had seen wounded?

Anne: (Really when the Lord put this book on my heart …) I wrote The Magnificent Obsession, which is a book on the life of Abraham. And my magnificent obsession is to know God as Abraham did. In a relationship God would defined as a friendship. In writing that book of course, Hagar is a little sub-story. But when I finished writing Abraham’s life I couldn’t get Hagar off my mind. She just stood out to me. So I went back and did a bible study on her life. And it’s amazing how her life’s story, as brief as it is in Scripture, is just packed full of lessons and so I just felt that God put it on my heart to write her story, in a separate book. To actually make it a book. And as I got into it…at first I was going to write it on the wounded. You know. Then I just couldn’t help but see in her story, there’s a pattern where she’s wounded and then she retaliates and wounds. And then she’s wounded back, and then she wounds back, and then she runs away. There’s a cycle. There’s a rotation there. I learned so much as I began to delve into her story.

And then I saw it reflected in my own life … my own life’s experiences. As I started to write the book so many things came to my mind that I had forgotten that I had actually experienced healing from.  But God brought them back to my mind as examples; small humorous ones, and big hurtful ones … and things that I had never forgotten. But there were so many, unusually so, that I felt God had given it to me, or given them to me to use … to help other people. Because the research today shows that the majority of people who are in church, who have left church … have left because, somebody in church hurt them. You know you just don’t want to go back there. And they don’t. And they leave church and a lot of them leave God. They’re what I call, a believer in exile. Twice in my life, I’ve been a believer in exile. Twice I’ve left the church. Different churches, but left and for a year was outside the church because of the pain that had been inflicted on me. So I understand that side of it.

But then as I got in to writing the book, I thought you know it’s not just that I’ve just been wounded, but the Lord showed me that I’d also been a wounder. I hadn’t intentionally done it. But I’ve wounded people. So I had to deal with that. As I looked at that in my own life and then I see the research that shows that there’s millions of people out there who have a faith in God but they don’t go to church for that reason. And then I started bumping into some of them. People who are in ministry, you’d recognize their names I expect, if I gave them to you. But they’re not in church because they’ve been so hurt. And I thought you know this is something that needs to be pulled out. And I didn’t want it to be just hurts, because everybody is hurt in one way or the other, but those specifically who have been hurt by Christians. Not just had your feelings hurt but been betrayed, rejected or slandered; lied to. People spin things about you to move you out of the inner circle. And it really is distressing to me, to watch it being done. Not only to me, but to other people, in God’s name. And that’s what I can’t … that’s what I couldn’t take, and I just decided to pull it out and talk about it. But to try to talk about it in a way that’s … that I do it in humility and with love because God loves both. He loves the wounded and He loves the wounder. So I don’t want to turn either one of them off. I want to draw both of them back to God first, and then back into the church, when the timing is right.

Debra Joy: You spoke of being put out of the inner circle. What is it that causes the church … the people of the church … to do that?  It seems almost like it’s a form of punishment, or control. What do you think it is?

Anne:  I think control is one thing. I think in some places it can be jealousy. I don’t know what the answer is. But I believe underneath it all is the devil himself who would seek to divide us, and set us on each other, and get us so hurt that we splinter and fracture. And then he’s weakened us. At this particular stage in history when I believe Jesus is soon to come back … and we need to be strong and united to reach the world for Christ. And instead, we’re all hurting each other. I just don’t want to be a part of it. So for myself, I want to be very careful that I don’t wound other people.

Debra Joy: Well, since you mentioned it, let me ask you. Do you believe the signs are pointing to the soon return of Jesus Christ?

Anne: Yes. I know it. I have no doubt about it. In fact my book before this one was, Expecting to See Jesus, which takes the signs of the times and Matthew 24 and matches them up with what’s going on and then how to respond to that. But yes, I believe with all my heart that He will come in my generation, if I live out my natural lifetime. I believe He’ll come in my generation and I based that on Matthew 24 and what’s going on in the world. Jesus said you can’t know the day or the hour but He did not say you can’t know the generation. He didn’t even say you can’t know the month or the year. He gave us signs to watch for so that we wouldn’t be caught like a thief in the night. You take the signs that Jesus gave, and the rest of them in the Scripture, and you line them up, and they match with what’s happening today in an incredible way. It’s really incredible. And I think we may go through a time of enormous persecution and hardship first. I believe we’ll be taken to heaven before the tribulation, the great tribulation, but that doesn’t mean America’s not going to suffer God’s judgment … which I think has begun.

Debra Joy: Do you think that we will see a time here in America of martyrs for Christ?

Anne: Well I think we probably already have. I think you can be martyred in ways besides being beheaded. It can be the loss of a job, or the loss of a promotion, or being ostracized by a community. Just increasingly they’re coming against preachers to say what they can and can’t preach, because they say some things are hate speech. So it’s just … I don’t know. I see the persecution coming very fast. But whether it leads to that, I don’t know. But whatever, I think we need to be strongly grounded in the Word. We need to know what we believe, why we believe it, and we need to be ready to share what we believe with others in such a way that they’ll believe too. That they’ll want to know Jesus.

Debra Joy:  On page eighteen of your book, you wrote: “So I refuse to let religious phonies destroy my heart for the One who loves me and draws close to me when I am wounded. I refuse to be robbed of life’s greatest treasure—a personal, permanent, passionate relationship with God through faith in Jesus.”

Anne: And you know how they rob us is when we’re hurt we can descend into unforgiveness and bitterness and resentment, and anger. And we get mired in the muck of that kind of emotion. And what happens is its like drinking poison, hoping the other person will die. We think if we forgive them then they’ll get by with it. So we’re going to withhold our forgiveness to hold them accountable and it doesn’t work that way. Unforgiveness is a form of vengeance. And our vengeance is never satisfied. We can never hurt them enough to pay them back for the way they’ve hurt us. And if you try, then they’re going to hurt you back, you’ll hurt them back, you’ll just be in this cycle. So I feel like the way they destroy us, if we’ll … if we’ll let them, is that we sit in the pain, and we nurse the pain. And we give way to our resentment, anger, bitterness and unforgiveness. So we get warped on the inside. We become less of what God wants us to be, and what we have to do, is to acknowledge the pain. We have to make the decision to forgive them. We have to carry out our forgiveness, our decision, by an act of kindness. Something we would do for them that is sacrificial in nature. And then whether they respond or not, whether they reconcile or not, that doesn’t make any difference. We have to then move on to embrace what God’s got for us. Knowing that in the end He’s going to set it right. God keeps the books. He’s going to sort things out. And He will hold them accountable, and in this life too, because you reap what you sow.

 Debra Joy: Anne what do you hope God will accomplish through your book, Wounded by God’s People?

Anne Graham Lotz

Anne Graham Lotz

 Anne: I’m hoping that a lot of people who read it will begin a healing journey. And it is a journey. There are steps to take which I lay out in the book. And that they would not turn away from God because God’s people hurt them. That they’ll get back in a church fellowship. The first concern is that they would come back to God in a warm, close relationship if they have somehow lost it, or that’s been damaged. That they would know that God loves them, and then that they’d begin the healing process. You can move past that. Actually every time we’re wounded, we have to start that journey again. But you just get quicker at it. And it is a journey. And then for people who are wounders, as I wrote the book I was aware of one person who had hurt me greatly. It was amazing what she did to me. It was cruel. It was out of the blue. It was devastating. It caught me so by surprise. And as I thought about it, I couldn’t get over the shock. Finally, I asked the Lord; “Was it something I did to provoke that? What have I done to her that made her do that to me?” And as unpleasant as it was, I had to look at that … very honestly. And I thought God revealed to me something … or an attitude in my life that I’d had towards her that must have rubbed her raw. I didn’t know it at the time, I wouldn’t have done it deliberately, but … but I think it was there. I don’t think it was equal to what she did to me, but that’s the way wounding is. You know I can do something that’s not that bad, but then she’s going to hit me back harder, and vice versa, until you just get in a cycle and it gets worse and worse. So I had to go before the Lord and confess that sin. I reached out to her. She has said that she’s forgiven me but the relationship … we’re not in contact and there’s no real warm reconciliation. But it’s been dealt with the best that I know how to deal with it. I think until she comes to me and admits and confesses what she did … then it probably won’t ever be right. But at least I’ve done what I can do.

 

Debra Joy: On page eighty-six you wrote a statement that is so powerful. You wrote, “God loved Hagar as much as He loved Abraham!” Can you comment on this?

Anne: I’d love too. Because that’s one of the things … I just pray that God will get this into the hands of Arabs and Muslims, because they’re the descendants of Hagar and Ishmael. And the descendants of Abraham and Sarah and Isaac, that’s the line of promise. That’s the line through which Jesus came. And so without perhaps intending to, Jews and Christians can act superior or make Arabs and Muslims feel inferior. And they’re not. God loved Hagar and Ishmael as much as He loved Sarah and Isaac. But God had a different plan and purpose for them. His plan and purpose for Isaac was to be the child of promise. And then through him and Abraham’s family to bring the ceremonies, sacrifices … Old Testament; the fleshy line for Jesus. But it was in order to win the world that is represented by Hagar and Ishmael. It was God’s great love for Hagar and Ishmael that caused Him to raise up Isaac and the descendants, in order to provide Jesus. So to say that God loves one more than the other, it’s not right. His purpose for them was different. But even in that generation, when Hagar was thrown out and God met her and told her what to do, and that she would be the mother of nations. She got up. She took Ishmael by the hand and she embraced God’s purpose for her. She went out and got a wife for Ishmael. Which, you know she was wanting descendants. She was claiming God’s promise that she would be the mother of nations. And she has become that. All Arabs and Muslims … even though they don’t directly descend from her, they claim that. They look at Hagar, Ishmael, and Abraham as being their greater parents. So Hagar became the mother of nations. God has poured out His blessing on those people in the resources they’ve been given. They are very interesting, gifted, intelligent people, who need to know that God loves them. His purpose for them was different than it was for Isaac and his descendants, but every bit as valid. And God has given them Jesus. He used Isaac’s family in order to give Jesus to the people represented by Hagar and Ishmael. I just hope that in some way God will use my book to draw people to Himself, who have felt like they’ve been shoved out into the periphery. When God is saying; “No, I love you. I have a purpose for your life and I want you to know me in a personal relationship.”

 

This interview originally appeared in Debra Joy’s column on September 27, 2013

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