In a recent post I introduced the first book I’ll be reviewing in my ordination process, entitled The Pursuit of God. I also shared the purpose of the book, according to the author – to help Christians go beyond the stale satisfaction of learning the orthodox truths about God so they might instead be satiated with God Himself. At the end of the letter I then promised to share with you some of my favorite topics and quotes from the various chapters that have deeply spoken to me. So here they are.
1) Removing the Veil (Chapter 3)
“The interior journey of the soul from the wilds of sin into the enjoyed presence of God is beautifully illustrated in the Old Testament tabernacle. The returning sinner first entered the outer court where he offered a blood sacrifice on the brazen altar and washed himself in the laver that stood near it. Then he passed through a veil into the holy place where no natural light could come, but the golden candlestick which spoke of Jesus, the Light of the World, threw its soft glow over all. There also was the shewbread to tell of Jesus, the bread of Life, and the altar of incense, a figure of unceasing prayer” (Tozer 35,36)…
Among so many other things, I love the descriptive imagery of Jesus always being the necessary antecedent in our pursuit of God. In order to see your way into the ‘Holy of Holies,’ you have to pass through the Light of the World.
2) Apprehending God (Chapter 4)
“The sincere, plain man knows that the world is real. He finds it here when he wakes to consciousness, and he knows that he did not think it into being. It was here waiting for him when he came, and he knows that when he prepares to leave this earthly scene it will be here still to bid him goodbye as he departs… Now by our definition also, God is real. He is real in the absolute and final sense that nothing else is. All other reality is contingent upon His. The great Reality is God… God has objective existence independent of and apart from any notions which we may have concerning Him” (Tozer 54,55).
GOD thinks, therefore I am! 'In Him we live and move and have our being' (Acts 17:28). If YHWH were to stop thinking about me for even one fraction of a second, I would cease to exist; I am always on His mind. Ironic that the world questions the existence of the Self-Existent One. Gracious that the Self-Existent One sustains them regardless.
3) The speaking voice (Chapter 6)
“The Bible is the written Word of God, and because it is written it is confined and limited by the necessities of ink and paper and leather. The voice of God, however, is alive and free as the sovereign God is free. ‘The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life’ (John 6:63). The life is in the speaking words. God’s word in the Bible can have power only because it corresponds to God’s word in the universe. It is the present Voice which makes the written Word all-powerful” (Tozer 74).
Heb 11:3 "…the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible." ‘Faith is blind’ because, just like those visible things came into being as ‘nothingness’ responded to the sound of God’s voice, so faith also is birthed through hearing that same sound of God’s voice – only now we hear and respond with our hearts. This is true faith, not dependant on visible, external things, things like relics or statues or holy days or geographical locations or job markets or signs or wonders. Faith ‘sees’ God with a heart that believes every word He has said, and that is enough.
4) Restoring the creator-creature relation (Chapter 8)
“Let no one imagine that he will lose anything of human dignity by this voluntary sell-out of his all to his God. He does not by this degrade himself as a man; rather he finds his right place of high honor as one made in the image of his Creator… Anyone who might feel reluctant to surrender his will to the will of another should remember Jesus’ words, ‘Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin’(John 8:34). We must of necessity be servant to someone, either to God or to sin” (Tozer 103,104).
I see two common escape hatches that are addressed here. 1) The independent spirit that has been bred and passed down into the average American still actually believes the choice is between the degrading option of serving someone else or ‘freedom.’ Tozer exposes this lie by showing that we are all servants to someone, that is an objective fact, a non-negotiable; what is on the table is whom or what we will choose to serve. 2) In ‘God’s economy,’ our best interests are served as we serve HIM. But that’s so cerebral it can be too easy to get out of, and God knows it. That’s why Jesus said this: “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35). When we serve others, we serve God, and the result is that ‘God gets the glory while we get the joy.’ Isn’t that what Jesus did? “…who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). Jesus served His Father and 'received his right place of high honor' by serving us. Wow.
5) Meekness and rest (Chapter 9)
“The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. Rather, he may be in his moral life as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson; but he has stopped being fooled about himself. He has accepted God’s estimate of his own life. He knows he is as weak and helpless as God has declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that he is, in the sight of God, more important than angels. In himself, nothing; in God, everything. That is his motto. He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring. He rests perfectly content to allow God to place His own values. He will be patient to wait for the day when everything will get its own price tag and real worth will come into its own… he is willing to wait for that day” (Tozer 113).
One of the best lessons my Dad taught me was ‘don't take yourself too seriously.’ Because when we do… it usually means we start taking offense too easily as well. And the root of constant offense-taking is chronic pride. Pride is like an eyeball; it’s exposed, it’s vulnerable, and it’s so sensitive that even sunlight can irritate it. So we guard it in our lives, we defend it tooth and nail, and if even the faintest glimmer of a threat against reputation or projected self-image appears, we sacrifice everything (including peace) to squint and blink it furiously away. But ‘humility is accepting God’s estimate of your life.’ And when what God thinks of you becomes all that matters, you can put on the shades of His grace and give your pride a rest.