A couple of months ago when our daughter-in-law Sue was painting a room in our house, she stopped for a tea break and scanned one of my bookshelves. She found a book by A.W. Tozer; The Pursuit of Holiness and started reading it. When I got home, she asked if she could borrow it.
"Keep it," I said, "I've had it for years, meaning to read it. It must have been meant for you."
Sue loved the book and decided to order a compilation of Tozer's sermons in a book to study with a group of young women at her house. We caught the wave and decided to study the same book in our cell group.
This Thursday evening we finish our group study on A.W. Tozer's The Attributes of God.
We will be cramming a little to do it; two chapters in one night--the Holiness and Perfection of God; but since some of us will be away for the following two weeks, and we are so close to the end, we thought we'd do it.
I still haven't got over last week's chapter on the Immanence of God (this was when we were still serious and hadn't yet reached the silly state we ended up in during closing prayer.)
Usually I'm pretty faithful in reading the required chapter, but I just didn't make it last week. And Jane, who is leading the study, arrived from work looking so tired that I said, "If you want to just have a relaxing evening, that would be just fine."
But she said, with a smile, "I'm ready!" And wow, she, and everybody else, was!
I felt as though I had really missed something by not reading the chapter, as one after another, the others shared things that struck them and excited them. All I could do was listen (a very good discipline for me BTW) and try to catch up by speed reading as they referenced passages.
"Immanence," in relation to God, for those who don't know, (as I didn't,) what it means, really, is the fact that God penetrates everything--a pretty mind boggling concept.
I promised myself that I would catch up. Never mind that I already had not one, but two chapters to read for this week; I had a glimpse of what was in that missed chapter and I was determined to fully soak it up. And I did. I have to say that if you only read the book for that one chapter it would be worth it. I underlined and circled and exclamation marked the pages to the full! I learned so much from it.
Basically, these are the Belinda notes:
God is all around us and in us--and in everything; but because of the dissimilarity in our nature compared to his, we are just not aware of him, not sensitive to him. God is not manifest, but he is there.
Tozer goes on to describe God's character and nature and how far from him we are, as only he can. I love the exuberance and passion with which he writes. Here's a small sample where he is writing on the Unselfishness of Christ:
Do you notice that Jesus Christ was completely unselfish and gave himself? But how self-centred and self-indulgent most Christians are! Even when they're reading books on revival, they're still self-centred. Even when they're praying for revival, they're still self-indulgent. A revival is, among other things, a sudden manifestation. It's a breaking through the clouds. It's not the coming of the sun; it's the breaking of the sun through clouds.
I'm sick in my own heart, sick about myself, sick about my friends, sick about the preachers and their ministry. How utterly self-centred we can become. We live for self, talk loudly about glorifying God and boast and say, "This is to the glory of God"--and yet we are self-centred. You'll know you're self-centred if anybody crosses you and your hackles go up. Don't smile about it. It's not funny--it's serious!
I have to say that got to me. I'd had my personal hackles up, under some self righteous guise or another, just a few days before reading that passage. Yuck!
The whole chapter reminded me of the need to draw close to God; to repent of my distance; and the dissimilarity of my character to his character. It began to prepare my heart for Sunday, when I stood at an altar with a heart wide open to God, shoulder to shoulder with our pastor on one side and son on the other and just a little bit, God was able make himself manifest to us.
24-29"The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn't live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn't take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don't make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; he's near. We live and move in him, can't get away from him! One of your poets said it well: 'We're the God-created.' Well, if we are the God-created, it doesn't make a lot of sense to think we could hire a sculptor to chisel a god out of stone for us, does it? (Acts 17:27-28, The Message)