The Sight of Our Imperfections Should Not Take Away Our Peace
There is something about your suffering which is very subtle and perhaps hard for you to understand. For even though you are convinced that your first concern is the glory of God, yet in your inmost soul it is the old self which keeps causing you so much trouble. The way I see the problem is this: I think that you really do want God to be glorified in your life, but you think that this is going to be accomplished by becoming more and more perfect. And in doing this you still are thinking of your own personal worth. So if you would truly derive profit from the discovery of your imperfections, I would suggest two things. First of all, never try to justify yourself before God. And second, do not condemn yourself. Instead, why not quietly lay your imperfections before God? And if, at that moment, there are some things you cannot understand about His will, simply tell Him that you are willing to conform your will to His in all things. And then go on in peace. For you must understand that peace is the will of God for you in every situation. There is, in fact, a peace of conscience which nonbelievers themselves should experience when awakened to repentance by God. And every tear of repentance should be peaceful and equaled with comfort. Remember the beautiful word which once delighted you, that the Lord was not in noise and confusion, but in the still, small voice.
And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. (1 Kings 19:11-12)
Despair at Our Imperfections Is a Greater Obstacle than the Imperfection Itself
Wherefore I say unto thee, her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. (Luke 7:47)
Do not be overly concerned about your defects. Instead concentrate on having an unceasing love for Jesus, and you shall be much forgiven, because you have loved much. However, we need to beware of the tendency to seek the good feelings and selfish thrills of love (which are the by-products of love) instead of love itself. We can so easily deceive ourselves on this matter. We can concentrate so much on love that we miss the point entirely. You are more occupied with the love, says St. Francis of Sales, than with the Well-beloved. If Jesus were the sole object of our love, we would be all wrapped up in Him. But when we are concerned with constant assurance of His love, we are still in a measure busy with self.
When we look at our defects in peace through the spirit of Jesus, they vanish before the majesty of His love. But when we concentrate on our defects, forgetting that Jesus loves us, we become restless, the presence of God is interrupted, and the flow of God’s love is hindered. The humiliation we feel about our own defects can often be a greater fault than the original defect itself if it keeps you from moving into the realization of God’s love. So don’t let yourself get taken up with the lesser of the two. Do not be like a person I just met a short time ago, who, after reading the life of one of the saints, was so angry about his own life in comparison that he completely gave up the idea of living a devoted Christian life. I know this will not be true of you.
When I receive your letters, I can just about tell how faithfully you have lived by the amount of peace and freedom you manifest in your writing. The more peaceful and free you are, the nearer you seem to be to God.
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