No. I’ve not been convicted of a crime that could see me sentenced to a ten stretch….but I have been spiritually convicted.
Long before I became Catholic, being ‘convicted’ was a popular turn of phrase in the Baptist/Charismatic realm in which I had worshipped in my late teens and early twenties.
It was in a happy-clappy spiritual community that I was encouraged to allow the Holy Spirit to ‘convict’ me. I was never quite sure how to go about being convicted, but it seemed that it involved waiting for someone to speak; whether a preacher or a friend, and then sometimes something would resonate with me. I would share this with my brethren and they would inform me that I had been ‘convicted’.
So, conviction can be a good thing that may subsequently lead to a person’s spiritual development. As a Catholic, I am still ‘convicted’, and not just when I am looking inwardly, examining my conscience, but by Scripture, by reading the lives of the Saints, the Church Fathers, the great spiritual thinkers…. also in the words of the Clergy, or of friends and of family members – I can’t tell you how many times my own children have convicted me! (or perhaps wished they could have me convicted)
I don’t always like it, because conviction almost always picks great big holes in the ‘I’m doing so well spiritually’ theory that I might like to present to myself or to others. But that’s precisely why I need to know just how much work is yet to be done, so that with God’s grace, I can co-operate with Him and move ever closer to becoming more like Christ and less like my sinful self!
Last week I had the good fortune to hear a diocesan Bishop give a talk and one of the things that ‘convicted’ me, was when he said something like;
“It’s not difficult for us to know the things that entrap us and prevent us from growing, from fulfilling our potential….we usually can know those things that entrap us by simply thinking ‘what do I think of first thing in the morning’?.”
And just why should such a sentence as this convict me?
Because the first thing I think of when I awaken is generally, either…
“Oh! I’m still alive, how about that!”
“where are the children, oh yes, they’re in their beds, of course they are in their beds, but are they okay? I didn’t hear anyone break in during the night, oh of course they’re okay, stop being mental, but what if something has/will happen(ed) to one of them…oh goodness….oh Lord, please watch over them and protect them this day!!!”
‘I must get downstairs before anyone else, so I can go online and check my blog/email/bloglines etc”.
How sad is that last thought? Yes, I am convicted by that last thought, because all too often it is my first thought on waking. The thing about conviction is that we have to make a response to it. We can choose to do nothing, or we can choose to do somehting about it. Now, I’m very fond of my blogging, but do I need to go online within the first few moments of waking up? I don’t think so. I’m therefore going to try to go online later from now on, and get back to praying first thing, just like I used to do. It sounds ridiculous when I put it that way, but yes, I actively put the computer before God at the very start of every day. God gives me each breath I take, and yet it is the computer that gets my attention first.
I read something recently that invoked me to the respose of, ‘Thank God for that! And it was this that I read….
” God loves us the way we are, but too much to leave us that way”.
Well, don’t we just all need to pull out the weeds growing in our spiritual gardens and encourage the flowers to grow? After all, how can the good things grow if they are choked by all those things that harm them? The good in my life is so often stifled because I allow greater presidence to be given to my will rather than His will for my life. Yes, it’s time to once again do some spiritual pruning!
How about you? What is your first thought in the morning? *Clean* responses in the com box please!