Some days are longer than others, I guess. I’ve been hung up on day three of my 31 day experience with Tozer for quite a while now. My natural tendency is to beat myself up and say: “That’s about right, Joel. You’re not very good at following through with your plans, no matter how simple they are…”
But I’m going to give myself a break, if for no other reason than it would simply accent the point Tozer makes on day three: We make our relationships with God far too complicated. If missing a reading/blogging assignment is cause to bash myself, then I’m way off base and Satan’s won without doing a single thing. There are far greater battles to fight.
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, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart.
Seems like I could just stop there and be satisfied with point-made. And Tozer spoke this in the 40s! What would he think of the church’s current state of relentless programming, organizing, methodizing and busy-bodying? Brace yourselves; he continues with the thought…
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.
Isn’t that all of us sometimes? We know that “shallowness” and “hollowness;” we’re familiar with that lack of peace. We know there’s more.
They do too. By “they” I mean… the world… the lost… the people without hope… the people who we think should come to church to hear about God. They sense the shallowness and hollowness. They understand that if some all-powerful being could make the world by speaking, He sure must be a lot more powerful than the god most churches talk about… and He sure must be worthy of a lot more worship than offered Him at 10 a.m. each Sunday morning.
People are leaving the church in droves in search of God.
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 the “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…
This is where it gets really good…
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 for.
And it keeps going. Tozer is just on fire here. Hits me so hard every time I read this passage…
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.
I don’t know how many times the Lord has tried to teach me this, yet it still hasn’t sank from my head to my heart. Oftentimes I crumble, frenzied with all the things that request my time, or all the dreams that swirl in my head, the curse of thoughts trapped in a Thinkers mind… I just want to burst with frustration, shouting–in my head of course–When will my life simplify! When, when will I be able to focus and really invest in something without so many distractions!
The Lord’s answer, time and time again, is that it’s always simple. There’s always a point of focus, no matter how much is going on. It’s Him, every single day. The choice is always there. He’s calling for us to pour our hearts into Him. And Tozer reminds us that we can “well afford” to do so.
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.
I’d like to end with just that, but I really had to include the prayer Tozer leads us through at the end of the chapter.
O God, I have taster They 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.