Alright, friends, so this is pretty much what it sounds like from the title–a continuation of my reading of The Pursuit of God, by a man named Aiden Wilson Tozer (I kind of prefer the name A.W.). If you aren’t a fan of what I wrote last time, no worries, sooner or later I’ll finish the book and get back to writing about important things like moped accidents. Or not, I don’t know.
Anyway, I’ve been making my way through the book, and I’ve been enjoying it because it’s made me think of a variety of connections with C.S. Lewis, Chesterton, and other authors. I’ve had some questions, and I’ve seen places where I don’t automatically assent, but I’ve had to wrestle with ok, what does this mean when I try and live it out?
Case in point: the second chapter, entitled “The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing.” Like this post, and this blog in general, the chapter is pretty much what it sounds like. Basically, Tozer goes through the story of Abraham and Isaac and declares the importance of truly dying to oneself and one’s possessions–even if one holds on to possessions such as loved ones and relationships out of fear for their safety. Things, says Tozer, get in the way of our knowing God. Specifically, it’s the trying to keep things, even the blessings God gives, that hinders us from following him.
This is a hard chapter for me, and I wasn’t sure about the idea of including it, because it involves a change in my own outlook, especially as regards my family and friends and my plans for the future. I still think they are mine, as this blog is mine, to do with as I please. See, I guess it’s pretty obvious how often I don’t trust God to do what is best. I’m still struggling with this chapter, so I won’t say more except to include two quotations it made me think of. The first is from Matthew 6, toward the end of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, where he is talking about worry.
Jesus says, “Therefore do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (emphasis mine)
Well, please be gracious to me if you’re a bible scholar and I’m doing something awful to these verses by not quoting the entire context, but it seems like Tozer is making a similar point to the one Jesus was making. Tozer says we’re prone toward “self” and wanting to keep our selves (and all that we own) safe and happy, and that’s what we’re concerned with, until we give all of it over to God. Jesus tells us not to worry about necessities (Tozer’s “things”) because God is good and knows what we need. Both say to seek God.
The other thing I thought of was something Jim Eliot said. I first learned about Jim Elliot from my brother, I think, when he read Dave and Neta Jackson’s Trailblazer series. The Jacksons wrote all these books for children about Christian missionaries, and they were always in a historical-fiction setting, with the main character usually an imagined younger person who might have been there and observed their ministry. It’s a great series. Anyway, the quote I thought of is this: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
I’ve had to turn that thought over and over to try and really get it. It’s not a comfortable thought, maybe–especially not at first (or second or third) glance. It seems more like something that becomes more true to a person as he lives his life according to it. Even if you assent to it being true, it only becomes sweeter after living it out.
Anyway, there’s my take on chapter two–thanks for reading!