This excellent book begins with Terry Wardle’s own testimony concerning his own emotional breakdown, with an honest description of the key factors which precipitated it as well as the path God established for his miraculous recovery. Later in chapter two, Terry emphasizes the importance of being honest with God concerning one’s emotions. Unfortunately, I somewhere and somehow learned and believed the subtle lie that I could not be totally honest with God. Sinful and unhealthy thoughts and feelings were “wrong,” and therefore were not the type of things to be presented to God in prayer. Even as I write this, it sounds so ridiculous. Nonetheless, it has been a powerful part of my own liberation to be able to open up to God in total honesty. Terry points out what I believe is true, but a very sad fact that, “People, particularly Christians, are often dishonest about their emotions” (p.34).
This inability to be open and honest with God short-circuits the possibility of real emotional and Spiritual freedom. I have also found it personally true that, “Freedom only comes when two things happen. First the wound must be brought into the light, exposed before God. As long as it remains hidden, the enemy has the power to use it to harass an individual… Secondly, the truth of God’s love, forgiveness, and acceptance must replace the lies in the mind of the believer (pp. 74,75). Though it is not mentioned in this quote, I would want to add the essential ingredient of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. This emphasis is made in other sections of the book.
One of the more difficult though fruitful realizations that I have made recently is with regards to the emotional and Spiritual significance of the painful and dry seasons of life. There is a purpose to God’s pruning in my life that is broader than punitive discipline. It is the fruitful branch in John 15 that is also cut back by the Father in His wisdom and love. “Winter” seasons of life can be both difficult and confusing. My wife and I lived in New England for seven years. We learned that our trees may even look dead in the winter season, but that an essential part of the tree’s development was taking place during this season of barrenness. Relating this reality to the healing process, Terry writes; “‘Winter’ for the Christian is that time when the Holy Spirit exposes our wounds, broken places, and unfruitful habits. It is far from pleasant, and even less so if we try to hide or resist His work” (p.127). Though I feel like I am a slow learner, I believe I am growing to appreciate and embrace rather than resist these winter seasons of life.
I certainly appreciated Terry’s emphasis on the essential place of prayer for emotional healing found in pages 147ff. Clearly, prayer was no small part of the New Testament church’s approach to healing. The significant healing that I am experiencing and seeing in others has been profoundly linked to the ministry of prayer. I would agree that biblically informed, Spirit led prayer, “is key to renouncing lies, embracing truth, and enlisting divine intervention during the wilderness experience” (p.151).
An important and relevant warning for me was that given on page 214 where Terry writes; “When freedom and healing come there is reason for rejoicing. It is also a time to beware. The bondage is broken, but the battle continues.” I thank God for the little and big breakthroughs in my healing process. At the same time I continue to learn that a breakthrough of any size doesn’t necessarily negate the need for an ongoing process which is very often essential for the work to be sustained and completed. Personally and pastorally I have discovered over and over the spiritual reality that there can be a real backlash from the enemy after a significant breakthrough. Thank God that we have been given every needed provision to stand fast throughout this common sequence of battle – breakthrough – backlash. Our Lord Jesus, who was wounded that we might be healed, has not only provided everything for my wholeness but also stands with me to “carry on to completion that which He has begun” (Phil.1:6).
Terry Wardle is the founding lead pastor of Risen King Community Church. His son, Aaron Wardle, is the worship pastor at Risen King. Currently Terry is a professor at Ashland Theological Seminary and is the founder and director of Healing Care Ministries in Ashland, Ohio. He is the author of numerous books on inner healing, formational prayer and the ministry of Holy Spirit. Check out the Healing Care website at: http://healingcareministries.com/