Ever have one of those days where everything you read convicts you? I feel like I am a pinball and I am being launched with sparks, bell rings and little bursts of energy into the bumpers of conviction that surround me. Never thought of my spiritual journey like a pinball game but that's sort of a perfect analogy for today. I keep being bounced about, falling into holes only to be shot out from the other side of my tiny universe into the next bit of truth or obstacle. I don't mean to sound disrespectful nor do I want to be guilty of blasphemy, but I can actually picture the Holy Spirit using His flippers to keep me in the field of play. Of course His aim is spot on. I've never thought about the sting that little silver ball feels until now. Conviction is sweet but it costs a bit of your backside sometimes.
The ladies bible study I am leading is something I spend a lot of time grousing about. I love the ladies and the time I get to spend with them. They are a sharp group and they keep me honest. I don't mean to make you think I grouse about them at all. It's the book we are using. I take offense at the author's use of terms like "partnering with God" and "allowing the Holy Spirit." I am always ready to correct her. "Ladies, we do not allow God to do anything, we submit to Him! He allows us to breathe!" Or, "We are not partners with God we are partakers of His grace. Big difference!" Ptooey! Take that for your smarmy, seeker sensitive vocabulary! Always ready with my doctrinal white out I feel like Graham Norton with my hand poised over the lever while an audience member sits in the little red chair and tells a story. Say one thing I don't like and poof! You're gone! If you're thinking I have been manifesting the sin of pride, you may have a flair for the obvious.
So then, imagine my surprise to end this week's work with a "Pzoom! Ding! Ding! Ding!" -in your face- face palm of conviction; one born from reading the words of the very same author I have been correcting. Oh yeah, she nailed me. I won't go into detail on what she said that convicted me, it was my conviction and not likely yours. Besides, it isn't what she wrote but that it was her words God used to whack me upside my pointy little proud head to get my attention. God uses means and in this case He used someone I wasn't expecting. Someone with whom I frankly thought I had a superior understanding of the Word. Not fair, God! I thought I was straightening out her points and You go convicting me with her words? Ouch! OK, I'll promise to do better!
Seriously, it's given me a lot to think about and, I dare say, repent over. To make certain that I do give myself pause, meditate over the truth and repent of my sinful attitudes, the next piece of studying I did involved this gem:
"....the moving cause of self-denial is the Lord and not man himself. Man is too deeply immersed in self-love to be able to rid himself from it. Even if he could divorce himself from this, he would not be able to bring himself into the opposite virtuous disposition." Wilhelmus àBrakel
I can't pick myself up and dust myself off. I can't change things simply because I will it. The only way this gets better is for God to do it. I am completely dependent on His mercy and His desire to sanctify me.
1Thessalonians 5:23-24 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
And it's a good thing He is faithful and will complete the work He began in me. Next time you get the feeling God is playing "whack-a-mole" with you remember it is for your benefit and His glory. Conviction is a good thing.