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.