By Jean Wilund
When we heed the Holy Spirit, we’ll radiate the joy and peace of Christ—not the searing pain of regret.
That’s a lesson I re-learned recently through a ridiculous exfoliating disaster.
As I was getting ready for bed, I’d noticed flaking skin on my cheeks, so I pulled out my latest purchase: Intensive Exfoliating Treatment. The package promised, “See and feel instant results in just 2 minutes.”
I felt instant results in less than 2 seconds.
The moment the cream touched my face, searing pain shocked my senses, but I pressed on. Proper skincare required it.
While my skin burned, I re-read the directions:
How to use: Use once or twice a week. Apply a thin, even layer to a clean, wet face, massaging in a circular motion for 30 seconds. Leave on for up to 2 minutes. Rinse and gently pat dry. This product may cause the skin to tingle and flush slightly for a short time. For sensitive skin, leave on for less than 1 minute.
With the first dab of the cream, the stab of pain urged me to stop. But no. I forged ahead and massaged it across my cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead.
I told myself the scorching pain wasn’t that bad as I waited for the sensation to lessen. But after 45 seconds, I realized I’d passed from skincare customer to burn victim. And confirmed idiot.
Did I just rub acid across my face?
I splashed with cold water.
Pain. Searing pain.
I washed with a face cleanser.
Pain. Searing pain.
In desperation, I reached for my skin toner, which felt as if it had been laced with alcohol, lemon, and salt. The ensuing agony made me long for simple searing pain again.
More cold water. More cleanser. More excruciating pain.
After I dried my face, my skin drew up like a shrunken head and felt poised to rip like tissue paper if I even blinked.
I smeared on face lotion.
Sharp shooting pain.
My skin raged with anger and shrieked, “Murderer!”
So much pain.
Then I remembered my free sample of Laneige Water Sleeping Mask. It’s a silly-sounding product that turns out to be a touch of heaven. I swear my face sighed with relief. Until I walked into my bedroom.
The gentle breeze from the ceiling fan brushed across my face and shredded my nerve endings.
Snake Skin and Grandtwins
After a pain-filled night, I woke to the morning light and stared at the bright cherry hue of my snake-skinned reflection. I wanted to crawl back into bed and hide. But I was due to babysit my one-year-old grandtwins.
What will they think when they look at my face? Will they run in terror? Or feel compelled to touch it all day?
Have you ever felt the gentle touch of a one-year-old? Of course, you haven’t. It doesn’t exist.
I grabbed my liquid concealer and heaped a thick layer onto my raging skin to hide the carnage.
I survived the day, but it was a week before the pain subsided and the scales flaked off my seared face.
Spiritual Application of an Exfoliation Disaster
Yes, there’s actually an important spiritual application to my exfoliation disaster. Here it is:
Don’t be an idiot. At the first sign of the Holy Spirit pricking your heart or your mind, STOP. Whatever it is you’re doing, stop, listen, and heed.
If the Holy Spirit is nudging you to stop doing something, heed His nudging.
You’re probably not in danger of scorching your face, but you might be poised to endanger your most important relationships. Or your reputation. Or future.
If God sears your conscience, stop and step away from what you’re doing.
If discernment is whispering to you, stop and listen before it screams, “Now you’ve done it!”
No matter what you think you want, you will regret ignoring the Holy Spirit. It’s not worth it.
Consider King David
(2 Samuel 11:1-12:24)
As King David stood and stared at Bathsheba, the beautiful woman who was not his wife, bathing on the roof of her home, I have no doubt the Holy Spirit spoke to his heart. The resounding message was probably something like, “STOP!”
When David sent for her to be brought to his palace, I imagine the Holy Spirit did more than nudge him. But David ignored every Truth he knew from and about God and forged deeper into sin.
After the excitement of his desire wore off, surely David’s heart—a heart after God’s own heart —ached with pain over what he’d done. The pain of sin’s destruction no doubt haunted him.
He’d ignored the warning signs, forged ahead, and gotten burned.
David could never turn back the clock to a time before he’d stolen another man’s wife and conspired to have her husband killed. To a time when he was innocent of adultery and murder.
Thankfully the story didn’t end there. God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David with the Truth. David humbled himself and repented before the Lord. And the healing balm of God’s mercy and grace redeemed him.
It’s Not Always About Sin
When I smeared the cream of death onto my face, I wasn’t “plunging into sin.” I was trying to do good to my face.
Maybe you’re not plunging into sin. You’re doing a good work, but it’s not what God wants for you at this time.
If the Holy Spirit is getting your attention, there’s a reason. Stop and listen.
God may bring to your remembrance a verse, a Truth from His Word, or a godly principle that steers you in the direction He wants you to go.
Consider King David Again
(2 Samuel 7:1-29)
Early in his reign, King David wanted to build God a temple.
The prophet Nathan praised him for his righteous desire. But God said, “No.”
It wasn’t God’s plan for David to build Him a temple. Instead, one of his sons would build it.
David could have forged ahead with his good plans, but he chose to listen to and heed the clear Word from God. He chose well. This time.
No matter what you’re doing, whether it’s sinful or it’s good, if the Holy Spirit is pricking your spirit, don’t be like David with Bathsheba—or me with my intensive exfoliating treatment.
Be like Temple David. Stop, listen, and heed.
What If You Didn’t Heed the Holy Spirit?
If you didn’t heed the Holy Spirit, it’s not too late to heed now. Turn away from whatever is burning your conscience and turn to Christ. He is a gracious Savior.
You’ll find His mercies are new every morning. He’s a healing balm that soothes all our senses.
You may have to suffer the consequences of your actions, but the grace of Christ will lavish on you the comfort you long for and need.
And then your face will radiate the joy and peace of forgiveness—not the searing pain of regret.
PS—If you’re wondering why I had such a strong reaction to the treatment, I don’t know. The best I can figure is I’m allergic to one or more of the ingredients. My daughter, who is now the proud owner of my tube of terror, felt zero pain. Only a slight tingle. Who knows? By the way, my new layer of skin has not flaked even once. I think it’s afraid of what I might put on it next if it does.