For my birthday, my friend Abby gave me a copy of A.W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God, and I’m just now reading it. I sort of wish I’d read it earlier, yet at the same time I think maybe I wouldn’t gained as much from it as I am now. I feel like I’m learning a lot, lately, about my habits–that is, I’m seeing what I value enough to invest time in. It’s not always what Id like it to be. I tend to go in cycles, where all will be well and I’m rejoicing in the life God’s given me, to a place of uncertainty and discomfort, where I’m forced to go back to the Psalms and seek God’s comfort. Like I said, it’s a cycle, so as soon as I’m back on track, emotionally, I forget what just went down and I imagine I’m fine without God. I become complacent with the comfortable way in which I know Him.
Please keep this in mind–guilt is a very different thing from conviction.
So when I maybe seem to be beating myself up for not seeking God enough, understand that I’m not trying to articulate a sense of guilt. Guilt is the crippling sense that, since you messed up last time, there’s no making up for it. You have to try to make up for it, but you know in the back of your mind it won’t ever, ever be enough. Guilt is, in fact, what keeps me in the cycle I just mentioned. Conviction, on the other hand, is something quite different. There’s still the knowledge that nothing you do on your own can somehow make up for your imperfection, but then, again, that’s not really the point. With conviction, the focus isn’t so much on what you’re doing wrong, and what you always do wrong, and what you’ll never get right. That’s guilt’s job, and like I said, it’s a crippling thing. Conviction is the desire to do better–not because you feel bad and you’re trying to get God to somehow forgive you in a more powerful way then coming and dying for you–but because you know God, and you want to know Him more.
This is the first part of Tozer’s book, and immediately I have some problems. How do I pursue a knowledge of God when that’s not something I always want to do? How do I want something I don’t always want? That seems like such a silly question to actually voice, but Tozer addresses it. He reminds us, first of all, that God is a Person, and as such, “he communicates with us through the avenues of our minds, our wills and our emotions.”
The continuous and unembarrassed interchange of love and thought between God and the soul of the redeemed man is the throbbing heart of New Testament religion. (Tozer 15)
In other words, it’s not a one-sided thing, where God tells us to seek Him and then sits by as we flail around, sort of trying and sort of not caring to try. He seeks us, and it’s only by His seeking us that we are able to seek Him at all. And it’s only by His working in us that we are able to desire to seek Him at all.
So here I am, at the beginning of my journey through The Pursuit of God, and I’d like to quote part of the prayer that Tozer includes at the end of the chapter. I hope it will encourage you as it has me, and I hope that the rest of the book will be as uplifting and convicting as the first chapter was:
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.
As always, thanks for reading and leave a comment if you’d like:)