The Wounded Soul

It takes a wound. This wounding must be done by God. He has a way of striping our souls bare and exposing the depths of what we are. We all fear—deep down—that we are failures. The wounding comes when we see the truth of these things. The one wounded freely acknowledges that everyone ought hate him. Until now, he has feared that his family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers would discover unspeakable shame in himself. He has hidden this fear, but now the full force of it comes and he is undone. All of his hopes and dreams are for nothing. All of his desires are for things that he either wont get, or that aren’t worth getting anyway. He falls into utter despair. He is cut to the quick. From this wound, there is no recovery.

Such despair is essential to the conversion process. Heretofore, the source of a man’s dreams, joys, hopes, and delights has not been God. He has always feared, “maybe I am of no use to anyone.” Now he knows that this is completely correct. When God speaks, you can’t say nice things back to him. You lay as one slain. This is the gospel: we can’t save ourselves, only God can.

John Bunyan said:

Conversion is not the smooth, easy-going process some men seem to think … It is wounding work, of course, this breaking of the hearts, but without wounding there is no saving. … Where there is grafting there is a cutting, the scion must be let in with a wound; to stick it on to the outside or to tie it on with a string would be of no use. Heart must be set to heart and back to back, or there will be no sap from root to branch, and this I say, must be done by a wound.

The Christian life not only starts in this manner, but it continues in the same. God hands the knife over to us and tells us to keep cutting. We are to put ourselves utterly to death in order that he might live in us. Yet our sinful hearts do not die easily. We strive for success in ministry. We want everyone to see how Godly we are. We are willing to do many things for God but there are things that we hold back, things we believe we will care for better than he would.

Instead, toss everything on the alter, and watch while God destroys it all.

Christians, when they are acting as Christians are untouchable. What will you say to a man that freely abides in such despair. Will you turn his friends against him? Will you destroy his property? Will you attack him physically? He already gave up on all of these things long ago. Christ is now his rock. He cares not what man can do.

Most people will spend their entire lives running from such an experience as this. The unconverted are not alone in avoiding God, we who know God spend much of our time in the same pursuit.

Some verses

3 Comments to “The Wounded Soul”

  1. Gaye Lynne La Guire 1 November 2009 at 12:43 pm #

    Mike: I am particularly touched by “Wounded Soul” section of your website. God has had to thrash me good many times. Right now I am fighting harboring ill thoughts against a neighbor, and am praying on Psalms 28 and 51. I guess it doesn’t become really good until we are with Him. In the meantime, fight the good fight. You preach a tough gospel. I always thought the paintings of Jesus done in the 1920′s were too sweet – but maybe they struck a cord with the folks of those days. My “Good Shepherd” was an attempt at making him more realistic to folks in the 80′s and 90′s. Someday I hope he will allow me to paint him with fire and radiance undeniable. So far the paints to do this haven’t been invented yet. Gaye Lynne

  2. Gaye Lynne La Guire 1 November 2009 at 1:06 pm #

    hope comments on “wounded soul” came through. GL

  3. Mike Bradley 2 November 2009 at 7:11 pm #

    Hi Gaye Lynne, it’s good to hear from you! I’ve started to edit this article several times but it never seems quite right to change it—when I’m close to God there is a brokenness that this doesn’t quite describe but all of the edits only soften it without making it any more accurate to the experience. Perhaps you have the same feeling with your art sometimes?

    Regarding the battles with ill thoughts, hurtful neighbors, Psalm 51, and so on—I love the picture of a great ship with full sails in a mighty wind, but what you don’t see is that beneath the waters a very heavy ballast is needed to keep the ship from overturning. I hope God is loading you with deep and heavy ballasts of humility and contrition so that you will be able to withstand an extra-ordinary wind of glory in your sails.

    If that imagery fits at all, I can’t take any credit. I got it from a sermon by John Piper. If your interested, you can find it here:
    http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Biographies/1460_Brothers_We_Must_Not_Mind_a_Little_Suffering/

    God bless :)


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