I have been reading A.W.Tozer’s book Pursuit of God. Below is a combination of my reflections and synopsis of some key ideas in the first 4 chapters of the book.
Holy persons are people who are famished for God’s presence and are seeking after God as the highest value of their life. Tozer says, “they want to taste, to touch with their hearts, to see with their inner eyes the wonder that is God.” Holy people pray like Moses, “God, show me thy glory.”
Holy people are not led by, “a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart.” Holy people like are ones who seem to have a deep sense of wonder at God, a wonder that will not be easily quenched by reading a chapter in the bible, or a book. Rather, this holy wonder longs and pants for more and more of God’s affirming presence.
Here is the important question… What keeps us away from the deep longing for God?
Tozer suggest that what keeps us from a deeper longing for God is the “evil habit of seeking God-and.” When we seek God but also want to value our career or the approval we get from people or the possessions we have, then we are seeking God-and something else. This habit of God-and will lead to us loosing our ability to wonder at God.
How to get away from the evil habit of seeking God-and?
There are 3 ways…
1.Finding freedom from Tyranny of things.
When our roots find nourishment in the things we possess, we are fed bad nutrition. It is like eating constantly at McDonalds – so much that our body becomes a slave to those cheap titillating calories. If one were to become a slave to McD food, to find freedom, one has to retrain one’s senses to finding pleasure in healthy green food. Tozer says that a big part of the training that God gave Abraham was to put him in the school of renunciation. God has Abraham give up his home country, the comfort of the familiar and even his own son, so that Abraham would realize that God himself is his reward.
Tozer says “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.”
The way we find freedom from tyranny of thing is to practice the prayer of renunciation, stripping away the unessential and deepening our roots in that which is essential, Christ the Rock.
2.Deepening a Covenental Relationship.
The temptation of the modern man is to see God as an “inferential character,” a character who is a part of a person’s intellectual life. Tozer makes an interesting distinction between the prophet and the scribe. The scribe is one who reads books and has intellectual knowledge. On the other hand, the prophet is one who has an encounter with a living God (as in Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Paul). I was watching the movie Forrest Gump which has a scene in which a disabled Vietnam war veteran, Lieutenant Dan, is screaming at God. For L Dan, God is not merely an intellectual idea, God is a person he is angry with. He is lamenting as David does in the Psalms, thus he encounters God, and finds his peace. God for Lieutenant Dan is not just an intellectual idea in his mind, rather God is a person who he talks to, fights with, finds his peace with. The mark of this covenental relationship is obedience. Tozer points to John 14:21-23 as to clue in the importance of obedience to God as a way of communing deeply with Trinity.
3.Wondering after God.
Our hunger for God grows out of our wonder of God. What keeps us from coming to a place of wonder at God? There is a veil over the human heart, dampening the passion for worship of God. Tozer calls this veil the “self-sin.” What are self-sins? Self-righteousness, self-pity, self-admiration, self-sufficiency. It is a world where the self is at the center. The only antidote to this self being on the throne is the cross. One has to crucify the self-sins. Tozer goes on to say, “there comes a moment when its (cross) work is finished and the suffering victim dies. After that is resurrection glory and power, and the pain is forgotten for joy that the veil is taken away and we have entered in actual spiritual experience the Presence of the Loving God.” This resurrected self, which has been rid of its selfish agenda wonders after God.
The way to being holy is to value presence of God above all, the way to this place of valuing God is to renounce the habit of seeking after “God-and.” The way to valuing God-alone is to find freedom from the tyranny of things through the prayer of renunciation, developing a covenental relationship with God by encounter and obedience, and, wondering after God by deposing the self from the throne.
Memorable Quotes from Pursuit of God by A.W.Tozer:
We must invite the cross to do its deadly work within us.
The world is perishing for lack of knowledge of God, church is famishing for want of his presence.
The evil habit of seeking God-and effectively prevents us from finding God in full revelation.