The Pursuit of God
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
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
[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.