Random Blog Clay Feet: December 30, 2007
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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Diverted Conviction

I noticed something about a lying spirit inside of my head this morning that has pestered me for a long time. It shows up particularly when I am learning something very important that has the potential for deep, life-changing concepts and principles that need to be applied to the heart and mind. Very often when the importance of these things is sinking in my mind, immediately and strongly I begin to think about another person (usually one in particular who is often a source of annoyance to me) who really, really needs to hear and learn this thing. It is so obvious to me how it applies to their life, even much more clearly than to my situation and I begin to think about how much I wish I could get them to be open enough to listen to it. If they would just listen enough to realize how much this could help them they would have wonderful breakthroughs in their growth and relationship problems.

Of course, when put this way it sounds all too suspicious. My rational mind kicks in along with conviction from the Holy Spirit and I remember that every time I experience this line of reasoning that, based on the principle of reflection, most likely what I am seeing in that other person must somehow be resonating with something very similar inside my own heart, even if I cannot see it presently. In the popular phrase used in AA, “If you spot it, you got it”.

“But, but...” my mind insists. “That person obviously has this problem much deeper than I do and if only they could grasp this lesson their life would be so much better!” And of course, secretly I am hoping that they could learn it quite soon so that they would not irritate me so much with their abrasive treatment of our relationship. Yes, the unending ability of my mind to rationalize and avoid and excuse and justify...

What came to my mind when I again experienced this annoying habit of mine while reading My Utmost this morning and wanting yet again to apply it to this person was the realization that this kind of thinking is really a secret desire of my flesh to usurp the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of that other person. In actuality I think God is working too slow in their life for my liking and I think I can see better what they need to learn and want to apply it as soon as I can. That is pretty heady arrogance when exposed in those words, but really that is the nature of that lying spirit still lurking in my flesh wearing pious excuses to cloak its real identity. It is one of the roots of the terrible curse of criticism that has blighted my relationships for most of my life and has been passed on generationally both behind and ahead of me. It is the main curse that I need to be delivered from that infects nearly everything I think, say and do in some way or another.

God is certainly at work to heal me of this, and for that I am grateful, even though many times it is also painful. The reason that God allows me to see problems in others that could benefit from the new insights I am gaining is the same reason I look in a mirror to see what needs fixing on my own face. It never works to apply the needed applications to the mirror in an effort to fix the problems I see. And in the same way, it will never work for me to think that something I see in the Word or receive from the Spirit must be applied to someone else who obviously needs what I am hearing. God has not appointed me as His channel of conviction to that person; that job has been exclusively reserved for the Holy Spirit who is far more loving and patient than I and who has perfect timing and gentleness in His persuasiveness. He is the only effective way that will accomplish God's desire to draw them to His heart.

In my own life, when I allow my mind to run down the path of wanting to apply a conviction to another person it is very much like chasing down a false alley in a maze that always leads to a dead end. The sad part about that is that when I carry a hot coal from the presence of God down a dead-end alley and leave it there I fail to receive the benefit for myself that it was intended to bring to my own heart. Unfortunately there are probably a lot of cold ashes at dead-end corners in my brain from too many such forays. But I am also learning to be alert to this symptom and reign in my urges to apply conviction to someone else and instead realize that I must search my own heart for where this conviction was designed to fit.

If God cared enough about me to give me this conviction and even allowed me to see the reflection of it in another person's life, then the intensity of resonance that it produces in my feelings betrays the existence of something very similar hiding somewhere in my own soul. If I am willing to be honest and have the integrity to ask God to reveal the fault in my own mind where this conviction needs to do a work, He is faithful to help me see where I have a blind spot and how to accept the help He is offering me. For conviction from God is never designed to lay a guilt trip on me and leave me feeling hopeless. That is Satan's counterfeit of conviction. God only presses conviction on me when He also has abundant grace ready to provide healing and new life whenever I am willing to allow Him to perform the painful surgery needed to remove a pocket of death hiding in my heart.

I am also realizing that if I am willing to submit to the process of salvation (healing) that God wants to accomplish in this particular area in my own life that at some point He may use the evidences of my healing to attract that other person to want the same thing for their life. But that work has to be completely orchestrated and timed by the Holy Spirit and is not my responsibility. I have more than enough garbage and baggage to deal with in my own heart and do not need to waste God's valuable time trying to apply medicine intended for me to someone else's problems. Whenever I do that it always turns out to be toxic instead of healing. He is more than capable of bringing them into conviction and giving them their needed medicine and healing at the right time and does not need me meddling and messing up His skillful ongoing work in their heart.

This all sounds good on the external level, but applying it at the emotional heart level is a whole different story. But it is a start to confess openly what I see going on internally and maybe it also creates a certain amount of accountability (maybe more than I want).