How God uses the Gun of Guilt in our Hunt for Holiness
by Gina Welborn
With the advent of the new year came another month of blog posts for Inkies to sign up for. Now since I rather like Self-Help days, I figured why not write about goals this Friday (today) since the day was open. After all, Linda Goodnight's guest blog last month rather inspired me.
That was Monday morning.
Monday night, God gave me His 2011 "To Do" List for me. Umm. I didn't mind making my own "To Do" list. Not too keen on someone else making one for me.
Task #1 was something I was supposed to do before Thanksgiving. Only I didn’t do it because...well, I figured eventually I’d forget about doing it because my guilt wanted me to. I’m really a fabulous forgetter. Not because I have five children. They're merely covenient blames.
Unfortunately, God is a nagger. (That's me paraphrasing Philipians 1:6.)
In fact, for the week prior to Monday, the last thing I’d think about before going to bed and the first thing when I got up in the morning was Task #1 (even though I didn' t know it was God's Task #1 for me yet). The more I knew what God wanted me to do, the more I didn't want to do it.
Remember what I said about God being a nagger? That's because He cares more about my heart than my pride. (He feels the same about you.) Thus I’m writing this blog post instead of the one about goals because He kept me awake Monday night until I agreed to do what He wanted.
I suppose I ought to start at the beginning.
Or maybe the beginning of the end since that'll make this post a bit shorter.
In November, a copy of Fellowship of the Burning Heart: A Collection of Sermons by A.W. Tozer showed up in my house. I started reading it. Sermon 9 is called “Three Faithful Wounds.” Lady Julian lived over 600 years ago in Norwich, England. She wrote one book. In it, she talks about the three wounds she fervently prayed God would give her.
“I want Thee to wound me with the wound of contrition, and then I want Thee to wound me with the wound of compassion, and then I want Thee to wound me with the wound of very longing after God.”
I want a heart like hers.
So I began fervently praying that too.
The wound of contrition is one that “has captured us, defeated us, taken the moral fight out of us, self-defense from us.” Tozer further says, “As long as a person would rather be happy than holy, he or she is an unrepentant man. As soon as this realization hits our conscience, we don’t care whether we are happy or not. We want to be right with God, but we need...to be hit with our conscience, smitten, wounded within, until contrition becomes a part of our life.”
Now since I tend to read more than one book at a time, I also was reading Ryan Dobson’s Be Intolerant Because Somethings Are Just Stupid. The main point of his book was speak the truth, but speak it in love. That realization took root in my conscience.
Around this time, Melanie Dickerson shared about a scathing review on her book, The Healer’s Apprentice. I read the review and realized even though I understood that the reviewer taking offense to aspects of the book wasn’t wrong (it was her opinion, after all), how she went about sharing her review was horribly wrong. And that’s when God used a chunk of the cross to give me a wound of contrition.
Last spring I shared with one of my writing groups my “review” of Deeanne Gist’s A Bride in the Bargain. Granted I still have issue with the Christian hero’s unrepentant ungodly behavior, but my means of sharing my offense was big-time wrong. Compounding that was my statement to one of the editors that I wouldn’t share my review publicly. I complained about the book to anyone who would listen...and even a few who didn’t. LOL. Eventually I posted my review here on Inkwell. At the wishes of my fellow Inkies, I eventually removed it once I realized standing up for my view wasn’t more important than the relationships with those ladies. Of course at that time, I didn’t think what I’d said was wrong because I felt my opinion about the book was right.
God took me through Tozer, Dobson, Melanie’s review, and losing a handful of Inkwell members to show me no matter how right my opinion is, if I don’t speak it in love, I’m in the wrong.
I was wrong.
I wasn’t intolerant in love. I was too determined to argue my point...until I'd convinced enough people to agree with me. And since enough weren't agreeing with me, I doubled up on arguing. Uggh.
I'm much happier when I don't realize the character flaws I have.
Thanks, God, for making me miserable.
For years I’ve said life was too short to live with guilt. I’ve been wrong in that too. Tozer explained it best when he said, “Progress in the spiritual life brings a milder but deep sorrow that remembers the guilt. We will never be where we should be until we cease to hunt after happiness and begin to hunt for holiness.” I need guilt to remind me who I’ve been and what God had forgiven me of and who am I now in Christ. I need to still carry the heartbreak over my sin even though I’ve been forgiven of that sin.
So this very long explanation is my apology for the lack of love in how I shared my review of the book. I’m also grieved it took me so long to finally obey God and share about my wound of contrition.
But that’s where the wound of compassion comes in. The wound of compassion enables me to feel the way Jesus did about people. To realize the words I speak can breathe live or death on people. Or as Augustine said, “You must then avoid being too harsh in your words, and should they escape your lips, let those same lips not be ashamed to heal the wounds they have caused.”
The wound of longing after God won’t permit me to be happy in my forgetfulness or in my ever-fading guilt. Thank God I'm wholly forgiven, but that doesn't let me off the hook. I have to confess. I want to be more like Him, and that’s the heart of why I’m being obedient in sharing this with you.
I'd much rather be holy than happy.
Even at the cost of my pride.
Question of the Day: What has God used in the past to bring you to the point of repentance? What wound of contrition can you praise God for? And, while you don't have to share this, what is holding you back from admitting your guilt in a broken relationship?
be light. be love. believe.