Spiritual experiences in the night

Not sure what it is, but many of my most profound spiritual experiences, or at least my most intense spiritual thoughts, come to me in the middle of the night. It might be the dark; it might be the quiet. Though they are not the result of time spent in contemplation. I usually wake with the thoughts fairly fully formed in the my mind. So perhaps they are the after-glow of dreams?!

Last night I had a strong conviction that, while in recent years I have come to a greater sense of how my sin is ridiculous and pathetic, I need a much stronger sense of its evil, horror, spite, darkness. I need to be repelled by my sin. I want to be brought low so that God might lift me up. I want to be horrified at my sin so that I might flee from it into the arms of God.

But I also suspected that such insight might crush me. I thought of Isaiah seeing the holiness of God in the temple and crying out, ‘Woe to me’.

So my prayer in the small hours was this. First, that God would give me as much of a sense of the evil of my sin as I can presently bear. And, second, that he would match a realization of my sin with a corresponding realization of his grace so that I could bear it.

3 thoughts on “Spiritual experiences in the night

  1. The big thing missing (and doing a lot of harm to our spiritual lives)are periods of guaranteed silence. Therefore it might well be that God only can catch our attention these days during periods like nights or longer periods of solitude. It is obvious to me that the devil has one mission today: to keep us as busy as possible and to surround us with as much noice as possible. Although we are children of the daytime, let God speak to us during the nights!

  2. “Breaking up the Fallow Ground: An Outline for Repentance” by Charles Finney (from his lectures on Revival) is an excercise worth completing to focus the mind most powerfully on one’s sinfulness.

    Whilst I disagree with Finney’s mechanistic revivalism, in which he said that revival could be produced by such techniques; the self-examination method he outlines is amazingly revealing of the true state of our hearts. In part one, he invites the reader to list things they have enjoyed for which they have never bothered to thank God. I was shocked at the length of my list and my sheer ingratitude, treating God as if it was his ‘job’ to bless me. I realised that taking God for granted was my default setting, rather than gratitude. Repenting of the sin of ingratitude is a liberation – spoilt brats are the most miserable children!

    We need to be shocked again at the ‘unutterable sinfulness of sin’ – I found Finney’s excercise to be such a shock – although it was in the afternoon!

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