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The Pursuit of God
Brett Anderson ©2005

A good friend of mine, let's call her "Kate", recommended this book to me while she was in, let's say "England", and now that she's back she lent me her copy - It is called 'The Pursuit of God' by A.W.Tozer and I have only read two chapters so far but have been quite blown away (despiteth the fact that it is written in Old English and a little bit of an effort to read) and would encourage you to get hold of a copy and check it out.

Chapter 1 is titled 'Following hard after God' based on Psalm 63:8 "My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me." (in my NIV 'My soul clings to You, Your right hand upholds me.") The whole chapter is really good, but I just want to share a portion of it and hope you make it through the language to see the challenge of what Tozer is saying:

"I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain.

Every age has its own characteristics. Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organisations, and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention and can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and that servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we, in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all.

If we would find God amid all the religious externals we must first determine to find Him, and then proceed in the way of simplicity. Now as always God discovers Himself to "babes" and hides Himself in thick darkness from the wise and the prudent. We must simplify our approach to Him. We must strip down to essentials (and they will be found to be blessedly few). We must put away all effort to impress, and come with the guileless candor of childhood. If we do this, without doubt God will quickly respond.

When religion has said its last word, there is little that we need other than God Himself. The evil habit of seeking "God-and..." effectively prevents us from finding God in full revelation. In the "And" lies our great woe. If we omit the "and" we shall soon find God, and in Him we shall find that for which we have all our lives been secretly longing.

We need not fear that in seeking God only we may narrow our lives or restrict the motions of our expanding hearts. The opposite is true. We can well afford to make God our All, to concentrate, to sacrifice the many for the One.

The author of the quaint old English classic, "The Cloud of Unknowing", teaches us how to do this:

"Lift up thine heart unto God with a meek stirring of love, and mean Himself, and none of His goods. And thereto, look thee loath to think on aught but God Himself. So that nought work in thy wit, nor in thy will, but only God Himself. This is the work of the soul that most pleaseth God."

Again, he recommends that in prayer we practice a further stripping down of everything, even of our theology:

"For it sufficeth enough, a naked intent direct unto God without any other cause than Himself."

Yet underneath all his thinking lay the broad foundation of New Testament truth, for he explains that by "Himself" he means "God that made thee, and bought thee, and that graciously called thee to thy degree."

And he is all for simplicity:

"If we should have religion lapped and folded in one word, for that thou shouldst have better hold thereupon, take thee but a little word of one syllable: for so it is better than two, for even the shorter it is the better it accordeth with the work of the Spirit. And such a word is this word GOD or this word LOVE."

When the Lord divided Canaan among the tribes of Israel, Levi received no share of the land. God said to him simply, "I am thy part and thine inheritance," and by those words made him richer than all his brethren, richer than all the kings and rajas who have ever lived in the world. And there is a spiritual principle here, a principle still valid for every priest of the Most High God.

The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One. Many ordinary treasures may be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them, the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness. Or if he must see them go, one after one, he will scarcely feel a sense of loss, for having the Source of all things he has in the One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight. Whatever he may lose he has actually lost nothing, for he now has it all in One, and he has it purely, legitimately and forever."

[brett again] The paragraph that struck me is the one that begins "Every age has its own characteristics..." because I read that paragraph and thort how appropriate a definition of the church today with its programs and organisations and nervous activities to fill time... UNTIL I read that Tozer writes his foreword to this book in 1948 - almost 60 years later and not much has changed... we need to fall more in love with God and less in love with His work and our ministry and 'all the great stuff we are doing for Him.'

The book is titled 'The Pursuit of God' and that is the challenge of this week's thort... how desperately am I pursuing God?

Tozer finishes with this prayer - see if you can honestly make it your own:

"O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, "Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away." Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus' Name, Amen."

Let's get hungry for God - the effect of that and the encounters we have with Him will take care of the rest of it.