Updated: Mar 27
The Pursuit of God is the focused result of a thirsty man’s yearning to attain quietness of soul, upon having determined to take a journey into the essence of the nature of God.
I have a lot of gratitude for writers like AW Tozer, who have had the hunger and determination to cut through all the nonsense and shallow logic of what theirs and subsequent generations seem to have come to settle for as the standard of what the Christian experience should be.
They know that it is not complicated, and all the striving in the flesh to be “good” just wears a person out. They have this burning to implore us to realizing that attaining to the level of righteousness of the people around us is not the level Christ Himself holds us to. We are lazy to the point of deciding to not even believe that seeking God is an ongoing thing. “Accepting Christ” (not a Biblical term, by the way) is the main thing, and then it is all church programs, methods and themes—nothing that will ever satisfy the longing of our hearts, such as Paul describes in Phil 3:8: “Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ”.
Why do we not have this desire to pursue God?
It is because we don’t really want to want it. We know that it will instantly demand of us. We are content in the familiarity of our self-sufficient complacency, and have no attention span. And the modern-day church tells us that is okay. Just show up on Sunday so you will be sure to go to heaven when you die, and you will be seen as a good person in the eyes of everyone. We know better than to come right out and say this, but it is the message we have had burnt into us. Of course, this is completely missing the whole point.
Anyway, now that we have established that, let’s talk about what the point is, and what we do know, and what we do have, and how to unearth it and set to the practice of cultivating and utilizing it for the purpose of knowing the God who saves and heals and makes free, and blesses abundantly, and who makes our lives make sense with purpose and meaning.
Should anyone among us these days have any glimmer of desire to nurture their spirit and know this God, “The Pursuit of God” will show him the simplicity of what He desires from us, in order that He can give Himself to us, along with these blessings, which are contained in Him. If we can only stop imitating the world and come to realize, or believe, that “The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One”, we will develop a blessed, burning and ever-increasing longing after Him. This is all He wants from us, and without this acute desire, Christ simply does not manifest Himself. He does not care about a bunch of loud, impressive theatrics, methodical pulpit-puppetry, and religious posturing. He knows that He is all we need, and He is patiently waiting for us to know it, too. And we won’t find Him until we do know it.
The impulse to pursue God originates with Him, Tozer points out, as does the Gospel of John, in chapter 6 and verse 44, where Jesus states that no man can come to Him unless the Father who has sent Him draws him. This will need to be recognized, and then it will become clear that there is no need for religious striving or feeling unworthy. We will become inclined to follow hard after Him. This will be a blessed and joyous thing, as we find that the goodness of God satisfies us, as it makes us thirsty for more, and the more we pursue, the further aware we become of our need for more grace. We will desire to desire and long for longing.
There will, of course, always be the annoying hindrances of the flesh, and along the way we will likely succeed in convincing ourselves that the other things we are turning to are not really idols, and they will not get in the way of our communion with God. If we can manage to not ignore His voice gently persuading us to the contrary, we will very soon see that He is right. The things our flesh craves—our flesh nature—or what Tozer calls, “the tough old miser”, we will have to resolve to having torn out of our deceitful heart, “like a plant from the soil”, or as Tozer later puts it, “like a tooth from the jaw, he must be extracted by violence, as Christ extracted the money changers from the temple”. We will have to get honest about our idols, and our heart’s cowardice about giving them up, due to their having become such a part of us. We have cherished them for so long!
This is the painful part of the pursuit—forfeiting our lives in order to truly gain them. Self simply cannot go un-rebuked. It must be brought to the Cross for judgment. There is no other, easy way. We need to yield, trust, and then reckon it done. This is the only way we will ever be able to enter into the genuine experience of the presence of God.
It will also require courage and determination to stop accepting the lame, low standard of modern Christianity as a model for what our experiences should be. Otherwise, we will never know the eternal realm, and we will not have a real relationship with the Living God. Our desire to pursue Him will be “destroyed by neglect, if it is not strengthened by exercise”.
A vital part of the “exercise” will be simply developing the discipline of “looking”.
There are numerous scriptures throughout the Bible that clearly equate “believing” with “looking”. For example, Jesus was always looking to the Father (Matthew 14:19), “doing only what He saw the Father doing”. Psalm 123:2 says, “Our eyes wait upon the Lord our God until that He have mercy upon us”. Believing, it seems, is done by gazing upon God with the eyes of the heart, as Hebrews 12:2 instructs: “...looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith”.
We can’t fix or purify ourselves, and we should stop setting our focus there with that intent. “Unbelief has put Self where God should be”, notes Tozer, and, “The Word (of God) induces us to lift up our eyes unto the Lord, and the blessed work of faith begins”. And surely His gaze will meet ours, because the Bible tells us that His eyes run to and fro throughout all the earth, and that, “You are the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13).
Faith is the gaze of the heart at God. And gazing is a pretty easy thing to do—we can all do it. If we can only make this God-ward gazing a habit, God will become our dwelling place and we will be satisfied. We will know what home is. When we finally determine to exalt God to His proper place, it will cause a break with the hollow futility of the world, and we will develop a perspective we couldn’t have previously imagined. We will see more like He does.
Our God-walk will cease to be complicated, and we will know who we are. We will realize that we had been serving the “cruel slave driver” that is the sin which ruled our members, and now the yoke is easy, and the burden light. We will have attained soul rest. We will never again see a need to defend ourselves, and will be free from any fear of being found out, and the burdens of self-consciousness that require us to put on a show of some kind. We will see no need to “dress up” as someone we and God both know we are not, to impress man. There will be no sense whatsoever in driving a certain car, or paying huge amounts of money for the honour of wearing some corporation’s logo to feel we belong, or have some kind of status among other people.
But we will truly shine when we have surrendered ourselves to the easy yoke of the Son of God. This will at first require courage, but there will be grace as we resolve to forget ourselves and learn to behold God. It will require discipline and prayer. And disciplined prayer. And prayer for discipline. And new habits. This is what dying to self looks like. We make ourselves learn to pursue God.
We will need to keep considering the things that will make all this discipline worthwhile.
This happens as we gaze upon Him with our heart’s eyes and learn who He is, and by so-doing learn who we are, and our life has joy, peace, meaning and purpose.
This is the crystallization of my thoughts, upon reading AW Tozer’s The Pursuit of God.