Steve's Story: The Father Wound
Excerpt from Rescued from Hell, Chapter 7: Journey to Healing
The Father wound is so intimately bound up with our self-image that the healing of one needs to go hand-in-hand with the healing of the other. I received a major life healing for both the night I was taught to say and believe, “It is a great, good thing to be me, because I have You for my God.” Do you see the beauty of how they fit together? Jesus is the Father’s brilliant Master stroke to the identity questions that haunt us: “Who am I?”; “Who are You?” By sending His Son, who is the express Image of His person, to us as one of us, our Father is able to reveal exactly what He is like and what it is like to be ourselves as un-fallen human beings (Hebrews 1:3). If you want to know what you’re really like deep down as a new creation, look to Jesus. If you want to know what your Father is really like up in Heaven, look to Jesus. We need to pause and bow in reverence before the Wisdom that reveals such great mysteries to us—through the one and only God-Man, Jesus Christ!
I hardly knew anything at all about these things when I was starting out. All I knew was the pain of what I came to call the “father wound”—a place near my heart that just ached and ached whenever either of those two identity questions would rear their scary heads. I hated it! How little I knew and how very little I appreciated it, that the Father had left this pain for me as a wondrous gift. Instead of removing it, He had turned the father wound, inflicted by the enemy’s evil intent, into a homing device that would lead me to Him. I personally do not agree with the common thought that there is a “God-made void” inside each of us. There is a God void, yes; it can lead us to God, who alone can fill it, yes. But that He made it? No; that’s not what the Bible teaches!
In the beginning I came by my father wound, my God void, honestly. So did you. Adam, our first father, wounded all of us when he ate the forbidden fruit. Adam’s rebellion separated not only him from God, it separated all of us as well. In spiritually dying he lost that perfect vision of God which he and Eve had so fully enjoyed and the image of God he carried in his heart became a twisted thing. Now instead of knowing in his bones that God loved him perfectly, he became afraid of God and passed the benighted image of “scary-God-who-wants-to-punish-me” on to us all. The Adam wound was my “first father” wound and I didn’t even know it was there; nonetheless, it was working against me, as it does all of us, blocking us from beholding a true Image of the Father who loves us perfectly. At least this was not my fault. The God void is in us because of Adam; it was his sin that created it. If Satan could have had his way, he would have completely disguised it I’m sure, leaving no trace behind of what we had lost. By sheer mercy God has kept our interior sense alive enough to notice that the Biggest Piece of all is missing. Adam traded it in for an apple. The fear of our fallen nature that Adam’s wound instills in us and its mending requires putting the blame squarely on Adam, then forgiving him and taking faith-confidence to know that in no way is God blaming us for having a sin nature. He’s simply asking us not to walk in it.
God’s backup plan for revealing Himself to us is our earthly fathers. They are the ones who are meant to model for us an accurate image of the true Father, who we are born not knowing due to Adam’s sin. Through our birth fathers we are intended to discover what Unconditional Love is like, along with perfect law-giving justice, grace-giving mercy and a host of other heavenly attributes. Fatherhood is a very high calling (Ephesians 3:15). We all fall short no matter how hard we might try. You simply cannot pass on what you have not received. Until we receive the fullness which Adam enjoyed before his fall we will not be able to pass it on to our sons and daughters. But what we can do is our best, then pray, trusting that God will make good use of it. My dad did his best—he was a good man! Even so, I did not bond with him, but lived in fear of his disapprobation and his hand at punishment. The “birth father” wound can also become infected by our own unloving or rebellious reactions, which was certainly the case with me. As I wrote earlier, this wound was mended as I became able to repent of my rebellion against my father, forgiving him from the heart and fully accepting myself as his son.
Then there are the “father in God” wounds that come our way by religious leaders or others in divinely appointed positions of authority. How many different kinds of father wounds there are! One of this kind came when I was in the sixth grade. I had been sent to the principal’s office, though not because I was misbehaving—I was a Doo Bee remember? It was a perk, something like time off for good behavior. I would “watch over” the office while the principal was out. On this particular day, he left the radio playing and there happened to be a hellfire and damnation preacher who was just ripping it up. He thundered that God hated people who drank alcohol so much that even though you had lived for God all your life and never touched a drop of liquor, if you got curious and took a sip, dying with it on your lips, you would go straight to hell. I didn’t know any better than to believe him—he was a man of God!
Unfortunately for me, instead of scaring the devil out of me, it scared the devil into me. From that point on I was running from God! Many, many years later Jesus healed this memory; I saw Him in my mind’s eye walk into that office and look kindly at me trembling in fear. He then crossed over to the radio and turned it off. I realized that the “frightened child” still in me didn’t feel like he had the authority to stop listening to what the man of God was saying. Jesus’ actions showed me that the message hadn’t come from Him. We call this kind of mending the “healing of memories.” Jesus has many ways of healing a traumatic memory, but it is always on the basis of revealing a greater truth—something from heaven’s perspective that we could not see during the crisis—and by getting our heart to believe this greater truth instead of the half-truths or outright lies sown by the enemy. “Father in God” wounds are healed as we forgive those who misrepresented, albeit almost always unintentionally, the true Father to us and lift our eyes of faith to embrace what the “heavenly man,” Jesus Christ, represents to us of the Invisible God (Colossians 1:15).
Nastiest of all is the “Father imposter” wound which the enemy personally inflicts. You need not have had an occult encounter with the kingdom of darkness as I did to get this one. Jesus said to the religious people of His day, “You are of your father the devil…he is a liar and the father of it (John 8:44).” This father of lies works with the miry clay of our sin nature to “un-make” us according to the pattern of his own demented image. An imposter to the core, he counterfeits real spiritual authority and readily works through false religions and religious spirits to distort the True Image of our All Loving Father. Merely being a Christian or being in church is no guarantee he won’t twist your idea of Father God into something that doesn’t align with Jesus Christ. Just remember that Jesus and the Father are One (John 10:30). This wound took a long time and much study and prayer to mend, though there was a significant breakthrough that came my way in seminary.
The breakthrough happened near the end of final term senior year. I had some extra time so I was pursuing the Lord by reading an unassigned book, Watchman Nee’s Normal Christian Life. I lingered over the remark he made about what the blood of Jesus means to the Father in terms of our acceptance: “The Blood has satisfied God; it must satisfy us also.” For some reason that spoke to me and I stopped to reflect on it. From out of nowhere I had the uncanny sense of an unaccustomed Presence drawing near. By now I was somewhat adapted to the Lord Jesus coming and going and the Spirit always remaining, but this was different. This was the Father, and He was very close!
As I waited with bated breath, His words came into my mind. Son, I have watched you trying so hard to trust and obey Me. This had been my daily practice from the beginning: “Father, what would you like me to do next?” Since meeting Jesus, there had never been a day when I wasn’t pressing in. I see how cast down you get whenever you lose My peace. Losing peace is a sign of not fully trusting the Lord or actually following the Spirit. Losing peace always struck fear into me. You think you might be losing My good grace, that I will turn from you. That’s exactly what I feared! I want you to know that it’s not like that at all. I AM perfect love. What you mistake for a loss of grace is Me awakening you to your need to return. It is My goodness leading you to repentance. I will NEVER forsake you.
By then I felt so surrounded by Love that I dissolved into tears. And I thought: “What have I been living by until now? Trust and obey doesn’t go deep enough! I have to make sure I hold fast to this Image in my heart. Everything depends upon it.” I prayed for God to cast down all false images of Him in my heart just as He had once cast down Dagon from before the ark when it was brought into the Philistine temple. I then began what has become a lifelong practice of checking to make sure that every morning my heart fully believes the great truths of the Father’s perfect love and mercy for me in every moment. If there is the slightest shadow of doubt I seek to deal with it. I heartily recommend you do the same—He’s your Father too! What you believe about Him in your heart of hearts will make or break your day. Applying my effort to clearing His Image has been the single most important healing process of my Christian life. I need to emphasize that this is not about seeking a feeling. I can recall feeling His love only rarely, but I have learned to access the pleasure of fully believing the truth about His love for me. It always feels good when you believe Truth from the heart. I am not “hooked on a feeling” like B.J. Thomas’s song, but I am hooked on the believing which brings such delightful feelings.
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