A Wounded Church

My dad, Chuck Killian, the first circuit-riding preacher I knew and who introduced me to Methodism.


“Even if it wounds him.”

That was the prayer that I prayed several years ago on behalf of one of my sons who was going through a particularly difficult time in his life.

It was a hard prayer to pray. No good parent wants to invite unnecessary pain into the lives of their children. Pain is a difficult teacher; still and yet, pain is sometimes the most precise, shaping tool in God’s sanctifying toolbelt.

Pain is diagnostic. When allowed its probing investigation, pain brings us to the mirror of self-examination, a closer look inward at the condition of our hearts … the foundation of our thoughts. How we feel, what we believe, and the truth underlying both considerations, … yes, this is the good, diagnostic work behind a painful wounding. To settle for less–to run and hide–would be to stop short of pain’s potential.

Woundings deserve a good look, don’t you think?

In recent days, the church has been wounded … my church … the United Methodist church. We are a global denomination and in this last week, I gathered (via livestream with thousands of others who were tuning in) alongside 864 on-site delegates to watch the already festering wound among us open up in such a way that all who were watching could not escape the pain. In many ways, albeit odd, the severity of the wounding kept us attached to the festering until the clock ran out, the mics were silenced, and the screen went black. And there we were … there I was … released, dismissed into the night with a bleeding heart that needs both a dressing and addressing–a covering and a closer look. I imagine I am not alone.

The wound belongs to all of us. The pain is ours to hold. Perhaps, at the end of the day, this is the one issue upon which we can all agree. This is a collective sorrow.

As an eye-witness to the wounding and now a heart-holder of an aching discomfort that cannot be unseen or easily mended, it only seems best for me to come to the mirror, to allow my very good parent, my Father, to probe the depths of my feelings and the strength of my thinking.

Pain in the hands of a Masterful Surgeon offers cleansing.

Pain in the hands of a Masterful Surgeon offers conviction.

Pain in the hands of a Masterful Surgeon offers clarity.

Pain in the hands of a Masterful Surgeon is, indeed, diagnostic. And therein, friends, lies the rub.

For pain to work its potential, pain must be given over for examination to the only Surgeon who is completely holy and wholly skilled for the job. Not many will be able to arrive at this place of deep trust, of letting go and letting God. But I can go nowhere else because I have learned that God’s hands are the safest place for me to reside. He is my only hope for holiness.

So friends, those whom I know and those who are strangers to me but who have found themselves (like me) entangled within the reach of this tremendous pain, I make an invitation to you even as I am making it to myself. If we want this wounding to matter eternally, if we want it to do more for us other than to momentarily wreck us, then we must surrender our heart-hurts to the nail-scarred hands of the Master Surgeon. This is our first and best step. He is our only way forward.

Let’s not let this be for nothing. Let us, instead, allow this to be a time of deep, soul reflection. In doing so, a better “us” just might emerge.

Even so, I love you deeply. Even so, I pray for you each one God’s …

Peace for the journey,

PS – This blog has always been a safe place for dialogue, prayers, healing, and peace. I welcome your thoughts, but I humbly ask you to not let this be the time for debate. Shalom. 

21 Responses to A Wounded Church

    • Of course, sweet friend. It’s good to reconnect after all these years. The body of Christ is a wide reach! Love to you and Don.

    • Thank you, Martha. These are good days to link arms with one another as we carry God’s light alongside our pastor husbands. I thank God for Rodney and you. Keep shining, friend.

  1. Your words are beautifully crafted, Elaine. I have often found that to be true when someone’s been dealt a deep and bitter wound; the sort of wound that finds expression to be the pathway to healing, to Him. Left unattended, they are also the sort of wounds that plummet to the heart’s depth to become bitterness, resentment. You are wise, sweet friend.

    I’ve endured a few such woundings in my own life. It’s funny, strange and a blessing that they have become a source of my greatest joy, my greatest certainty of God’s tender care. I would prefer to never have had to endure them, but then I’d have missed the beauty God wrought from them.

    I’m saddened for the Church all around, especially those weighing the holy from the vile, the narrow way forward from the Way of Balaam Such amazing, telling, chaotic days are these.

    May the weeks to come find your heart rejoicing anew. As my dear, sweet, dying pastor used to say: “There is value in suffering. Keep on.” You are the epitome of a Keeping On-er!

    Love and hugs …

    • Thank you, my true and dear Sassy Granny. It is in times like these when I most need the comfort of friends who understand my story and some of my pain. Thank you for taking the time to reach out and lift up. Let’s “keep on” together! Much love.

  2. As always, your words have wisdom and a depth that can only come from journeying with Jesus. I continue to pray for my Methodist brothers and sisters. I love you, friend.

    • Thank you for walking this road with me. You are so faithful in your prayers, in your knowledge and wisdom of all things Jesus. It is my great honor to call you friend. Shalom!

  3. Thank you for your wonderful thoughts. I did not think all that has taken place with the General Conference would have such an affect on me. I do feel pain and I’m not sure why. Thank you for giving me some direction.
    Blessings to you and your family. You all will always be special to us.

    • Sweet Pam… as I look at the names here and on fb, I am reminded of just how far and wide my husband’s ministry life has taken us. Billy and I have served five pastorates since coming to NC in 1998. Thank you for reaching out and speaking to the pain in your heart. What happened at GC2019 has left an indelible mark across all our hearts. If we’re wise, we’ll take time to reflect upon and to refine our hearts as well as our minds. Otherwise, we’ve wasted the pain and, as Kathleen so wisely states above, “Left unattended, they are also the sort of wounds that plummet to the heart’s depth to become bitterness, resentment.” Honestly, because of the way we’re wired as women, I think it is sometimes harder for us to move past the pain than it is for men. They tend to compartmentalize the pain; we tend to combine it with, well, everything!

      Ask God for the cleansing, conviction, and clarity you need. He will not forsake you in the matter. Much love!

  4. Beautifully said, my friend. I’m not a Methodist, I’ve been following what’s going on amidst your denomination and I’m praying for all my brothers and sisters that are affected by the wounds of which you speak. The truths you shared are also timely for me as I’ve been experiencing for over 2 months now the woundedness of words– false accusations that have deeply wounded my heart and soul and fractured some relationships. All of this coupled with grieving my Mother’s passing and my Aunt just a month later has left me in a bloodied, crying mess on most days. I’ve not responded to the accuser because I’ve wanted to seek the Lord and see if there be anything I need to repent of and seek forgiveness for. As you so beautifully stated, I want this woundedness to have eternal value. I do not want my words and actions to cause undue harm. I sense there are some things I need to say, but I want my words to heal and not wound. God is the Master Surgeon. And so I pray He will remove the “cancer” and remove the blinders from this dear persona’s heart and eyes. Love you, my friend.

    • If our woundings lead us to deeper dialogue with our Father, then it has not been wasted, Marsha. I am sorry for the word-wounding you speak of. I, too, have been on the end of some false accusations in recent days. I’m praying for God to give you wisdom in when and if to speak and the words therein. You are wise and discerning. Rest in the Father’s love for you today. I love you!

  5. After so many means words spoken from every side, your blog brought peace to my soul. No one won- everyone lost but I know the Lord will use this for our good and His glory!

    • That is certainly God’s promise to us … to make it count. I know I want to live and love better. Peace to you and the family! Every time we eat at Pizza Inn, we think of you.

    • Love you and John! It was so good to see you recently. Let’s do it again. Until then, rest easy in the arms of our loving Father.

  6. Elaine~

    What beautiful and precious hearts are emerging out of this deep pain (shown in the thought provoking responses to this post- especially Kathleen’s wise words).
    I am not a Methodist either, but the wounding and the state of our world right now only pushes us to ‘occupy until Jesus comes’ with great kindness, compassion and grace. People on all levels will always disappoint us but Jesus never will. He Himself is faithful in all His ways!

    I have missed you my friend and those I remember in my early blogging days too! Thank you for the wisdom that is always released in the words you write! Apparently our blogging friends are also filled with great wisdom.

    In recent days I have found a deeper place of prayer and intercession brings the reversals we so desperately long for… not that the prayer changes things but that “our prayers activate what God has already purposed in our lives and in the lives of those we know and pray for.”

    These days only point to how close we really are to seeing Jesus … for His Bride makes herself ready. Behold, the Bridegoom cometh!

    Choosing Great Joy~
    Psalm 126

    • Oh dear friend, a lot of life has passed underneath both our bridges since we last connected. I am super happy to hear from you. Surely His return won’t be long. Until then, let’s lean into his heart so that we might better live the Gospel! Love you.

  7. There is much to be sad about. Thank you for your comments of caring and love for this church of ours. I am afraid your attitude has been, and is, missing from the process.

    • The sadness I have felt and continue to feel has rattled me, Christie, and, quite frankly, has surprised me. Life has been hard for me this past year for so many reasons. I’m asking God to use my tears to water the soil of my soul … to dig up my unplowed ground so that something beautiful may grow in this place of personal brokenness.

      Thank you for your grace; it is far more than I deserve. Love to your family!

  8. Words of wisdom you have shared with us your friends. Your voice brings peace to hurting hearts, including mine, although like a few others, I am not a Methodist. I attend a Baptist church, but years ago I decided to drop any denomination attached to my name. It was a privilege to pray with you and for your church during the long wait for them to come up with a vote. And they finally did, though the foundation on which the whole decision stands is shaky, and doesn’t really bring relief. So your words of peace give us the much needed perspective from which to view the wounding times that we find ourselves in. Pain is diagnostic, that is one thing sure, and it causes us to run to the only One Who promises deep level healing for our hurts. Hugs, dear Elaine.

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