This morning I woke up freshly irritated by a couple of sins I’d already committed in the first few seconds of consciousness. As God would have it, this occurred around 4:00 am. So, I had at least two hours before dawn, to stew on my/others’ shortcomings, which eventually boiled into those of the last few weeks as well, whether real or suspected. By the time William woke up, I was thoroughly resentful, belligerent, helpless and depressed, and apparently obsessed about all the ignorant, frustrating or hurtful behaviours of others and myself. I knew that this was a bad sign, and I knew that I had to repent and trust in Christ – but could not even stop thinking about all that weight of sin, could not even repent.
Although I couldn’t explain to him exactly what the problem was, William prayed with me anyway before he left for work. An hour or so later, after being roundly humbled, de-hysterics-ised and convicted by the first third of Proverbs – 2:3-5 “yes, if you call out for insight … then you will understand the fear of the LORD…”, 8:4 “O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense”, 10:19 “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent” – I managed to get on with the rest of my day, remembering that faith is for things you haven’t actually seen yet.
Later on in the day, my friend Dawn (GraceVisions) shared this excerpt from J. C. Philpot, “Spiritual Times and Seasons” (1841) on her dA journal:
As pride rises, it must be broken down.
As self-righteousness starts up, it must be brought low.
As the wisdom of the creature exalts itself against the wisdom of God, it must be laid prostrate.
The way in which the Spirit of God works is to lay the creature low, by bringing it into nothingness, and crushing it into self-abasement and self-loathing, so as to press out of it everything on which the creature can depend.
Like a surgeon, who will run his lancet into the abscess, and let out the gory matter, in order to effect a thorough cure; so the Spirit of the Lord thrusting His sharp sword into the heart, lets out the inward corruption, and never heals the wound until He has thoroughly probed it.
And when He has laid bare the heart, He heals it by pouring in the balmy blood of Jesus, as that which, by its application, cleanses from all sin.
In the common absence of really being confronted with my sin, I’ve often admired the spiritual greats and their humility and submission to His work in their lives, as with the passage Dawn shared with me. However, admiration of those who point to God is not actually the process of refining. For that, I need the Physician Himself.
Though only briefly, I thought I came to such a place this morning, when it felt like my sin was so great that I did not even have access to the throne. It was only later that I started to realise how deadly to faith is a skeptical or critical perspective on life, because it is rooted in pride – where I (subconsciously) must be in control, or bridge my salvation, or be able to somehow deserve this grace … and down the slippery slope it goes.
No, instead I must recall that the clay does not mold the jar, the rock does not sculpt the statue. Comfort comes only when we rest in God, knowing that ‘He who began a good work in [us] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.’
And we must praise Him, for His Gospel is sure, and not mourn, for the victory is already won.