Lord, remove the veil

In chapter three of The Pursuit of God, Removing the Veil, A.W. Tozer wrote about the Holy of Holies, the innermost and most sacred part of the ancient tabernacle in Jerusalem. Only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place and only once a year during the Day of Atonement. An ornate veil made of blue, purple, and crimson yarn separated the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place where Levites and priests were permitted.

When Jesus was crucified, the veil in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom! The veil that had restricted access to the presence of God was removed, allowing all who believe to freely approach God and hear His voice. When Jesus sacrificed himself for our sins, he opened the door to all worshipers to enter God’s presence.

Of course, God is always present; He is omnipresent. He is everywhere. He reveals himself to us through creation. But we don’t all experience his manifest presence. Even those of us who know He is with us, long for more of Him. My thirsty soul is restless and pants for God. My chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?

Psalm 42:1-2

Tozer asked, since the veil was removed by Jesus death, what prevents us from entering God’s presence? Is there a veil in our hearts that shuts out the light and hides the face of God? Yes, there is a barrier. “It is the close-woven veil of the self-life which we have never truly acknowledged…”

The self-life. The long list of hyphenated sins of the heart: self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-indulgence, self-love, self-centeredness, self-promotion, etc.

Self is the opaque veil that hides the face of God from us.

A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Tozer says that we must bring our self- sins to the cross for judgment. Removing the veil is not an easy or pleasant process. To remove the veil is to tear apart a part of yourself. We can’t do it alone. God must do the work for us. Our job is to yield and put our trust in Him.

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Lord Jesus, thank you for breaking down the barrier between me and my God, for reconciling me to the Father. Son of God, Son of Man, thank you for showing me who God is. You make real to me his never ending love, mercy and forgiveness.

Dear God, please forgive me. I know that my sin separates me from you. I fall short of your glory and am not worthy to be in your presence. And yet my soul pants for you like a deer pants for streams of water. I long for your manifest presence.

Father God, I don’t like to think of myself as self-centered and yet I know that I am too often centered on myself. I struggle with self-righteousness. When I concern myself with the morality of others, it is easy to ignore my own sinfulness. My independence leads to a feeling of self-sufficiency and yet I am not sufficient. I need you.

Lord Jesus, you showed me how to walk in your Light and yet, I still struggle with self-control. You taught me who I should be but there is another power in me that is at war with my mind and my heart. I want to what is good, but I don’t. I want to control my tongue, but I don’t. I want to control my thoughts, but I don’t.

Lord, I can’t do this soul work without you. You are the potter; I am the clay. Mold me into the person I should be. Transform me. Renew me. Tear down the veil in my heart. In the precious name of Jesus, amen.

The Blessedness of a Poor Spirit

Chapter two of The Pursuit of God, The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing, left me feeling uncomfortable with myself. What is fighting for first place in my heart?

Men have now, by nature, no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer, but there in the moral dusk, stubborn and aggressive usurpers fight among themselves for first place on the throne.

A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Dear God, I have been doing a lot of soul searching since I read what A.W. Tozer had to say about possessiveness. He called the love of things a disease that takes the place of you in the heart. So I have to ask myself: am I too attached to material things?

Tozer said that the way to have deeper knowledge of you is “through the lonely valleys of soul poverty and giving up all things.” Lord Jesus, this reminded me of the time you challenged a rich man to sell all of his possessions, give the money to the poor, then come and follow you. He walked away sad because he had a lot of possessions. How would I respond if you asked me to sell all my earthly possessions? I have to confess that I don’t want to give away everything I have. But I do want to follow you. And I know that I have everything I need in you.

When I was a kid, we were poor and I didn’t like it. It wasn’t because I had to do without things; it was because people looked down on us and made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. You used physical poverty to teach me that my worth isn’t determined by what I have but by who I am. I learned to have empathy for the “least of these” because I know what it like to be one. I learned that money and things are not the keys to happiness. Thank you for teaching me these things.

Lord, you have blessed me greatly. I have a nice, comfortable home. I have a lot of stuff. Everything I have, I owe to you – not just my physical possessions, but my talents and abilities. More importantly, you paid my spiritual debts in full. Sin had left a crimson stain, you washed it white as snow.

Tozer wrote about Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to you. Even though he was a rich man, he possessed nothing. This, Tozer said, is the spiritual secret. The secret is not to have nothing; it is to possess nothing. It is to renounce possessions and to make you the real treasure of the heart.

I know, God, that it isn’t just things that take your place in my heart. Sometimes for me, it is the desire for social acceptance and approval or the desire to be in control. Lord, thank you again for all you have given me. Please reveal all the things that fight you for first place in my heart and root them from my heart.

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Jesus Paid It All

  1. I hear the Savior say,
    “Thy strength indeed is small;
    Child of weakness, watch and pray,
    Find in Me thine all in all.”
    • Refrain:
      Jesus paid it all,
      All to Him I owe;
      Sin had left a crimson stain,
      He washed it white as snow.
  2. For nothing good have I
    Whereby Thy grace to claim;
    I’ll wash my garments white
    In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.
  3. And now complete in Him,
    My robe, His righteousness,
    Close sheltered ’neath His side,
    I am divinely blest.
  4. Lord, now indeed I find
    Thy pow’r, and Thine alone,
    Can change the leper’s spots
    And melt the heart of stone.
  5. When from my dying bed
    My ransomed soul shall rise,
    “Jesus died my soul to save,”
    Shall rend the vaulted skies.
  6. And when before the throne
    I stand in Him complete,
    I’ll lay my trophies down,
    All down at Jesus’ feet.

Following hard after You

I’ve already gotten off to a wrong start. It feels like I’m treating the pursuit of God like just another academic exercise. But this isn’t about my head; it’s about my heart. This is between me and my God.

Dear God, I want to know you. I want to find you. In every season, in every moment, before I bring my need, I will bring my heart and seek you first.

Lord, thank you for seeking me before I sought you. You drew me to you when I was just a little girl learning about Jesus. You’ve been there for me in all the good times and in all my difficulties. You’ve never left me, even when I wandered away from you. You put the desire in me to follow you. I don’t know why you chose me but I am so grateful that you did. Even as I continue to seek you, I take comfort in knowing that I am already in your hands.

Yes, I continue to seek you even though I found you long ago. I know you but I want to know you more. I already have you but I want more of you. I feel your presence and yet I long to be even closer to you. To most of the world, my pursuit of you is a mystery. I can only say that I believe in you. I adore you. I need you. I belong to you. I am Yours and you are mine.

I want to follow hard after you, Lord but I confess that I am too easily distracted by less important things. I am spiritually lazy. I tell myself that if only I had a quiet, secluded place and more time, I would focus more on you. But that is just an excuse, Lord. You’re right here. In every moment, in every place, you are with me. Give me the discipline to make time for you.

Lord, you created my inmost being. You have searched me and you know me, inside and out. You perceive my every thought. Before a word leaves my lips, you know it. I cannot hide anything from you. All the days of my life were written in your book before one of them came to be.

God, you are everything I need all wrapped up in One. You are my reason for being. You give my life purpose. You guide me. You shelter me in the storms of life. You are my rock and my redeemer. There is no greater love than the love you have for me. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me.

Lord, I pray that your Spirit will guide me as I follow hard after you. Search me and know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. Show me my offensive ways and give me the courage to face the truths about myself that only you can reveal. Amen.

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In the first chapter of The Pursuit of God, “Following Hard after God,” A.W. Tozer wrote about prevenient grace. The grace of God precedes human action. As Tozer put it, “before a man can seek God, God must first have sought the man.” God must enlighten us and put the urge in us to purse him.

Tozer wrote that all human interactions are a response of personality to personality. God created us in his image so we have the capacity to know him. Some of our social encounters are casual and others are more full and intimate. Genuine religion “is in essence the response of created personalities to the creating personality, God.” Just as it takes more than one encounter to really know a person, it takes more than one encounter to know God. I love this image of God as a multi-faceted personality who knows my emotions and desires so well.

For those of us who wish that God would speak to us audibly, Tozer has encouraging words: “God communicates with us through the avenues of our minds, our wills, and our emotions.” He goes on to say that the “continuous and unembarrassed interchange of love and thought between God and the spirit of the redeemed man is the throbbing heart of New Testament religion.” This is a perfect description of prayer – spirit speaking to Spirit with the mind and the heart. It is raw, honest, and unembarrassed, just like Psalm 139.

Tozer wrote that complacency is the enemy of spiritual growth. Some people, once they have been “saved” or have “accepted Christ,” are not hungry or thirsty for God. They are self-satisfied. They practice religion with no “jar to the moral life and without embarrassment to the Adamic ego.” This is a shame because God does not want us to be lukewarm. He is a jealous God.

Tozer wrote that to have found God and to still pursue him is a paradox of love. This pursuit is a desire scorned by the self-satisfied but it is the joy of those whose hearts burn for God. The Spirit gives birth to spirit and when we are reborn, we sense our kinship with God. Our spirit leaps in joyous recognition. I am a child of God!

To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too-easily-satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart.

A.W. Tozer

Tozer’s advice for those of us who are determined to find God is to simplify our approach to Him. Strip down all the religious teaching to the essentials of our faith. Come to God as a child, without any pretenses.

Here I am God, your little girl. Fill my longing heart.

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Photo by Richard Dorran on Unsplash

A soul thirsting for the living God

Last year I bought A.W. Tozer’s book, The Pursuit of God, published in 1948. It’s only about 100 pages so it was a quick read. I knew I would eventually want to read it again to really reflect on it. I have been preoccupied the last few months relocating to a different state. Now my husband and I are settled in our new home and I’m ready to dive back into this book.

In the preface to the book, Tozer addressed a problem he saw with conservative Christianity. Many religious leaders did not see how hungry people are for God. Then, as now, there was no shortage of people who could teach fundamentals of the Christian faith from the Bible. But too often, this teaching did not satisfy a believer’s longing to experience the presence of God.

It is a solemn thing, and no small scandal in the kingdom, to see God’s children starving while actually seated at the Father’s table.

A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

The word of God had been widely disseminated and as a result, millions of people had Biblical knowledge. But Tozer wondered if “true spiritual worship” had ever been lower. As he observed, many churches put on a program every week and people came to church to be entertained. Few people engaged in real worship.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

Psalm 42:2

Tozer said that “the Bible is not an end in itself.” It is a means to bring people into an intimate relationship with God. It takes more than words to nourish the hungry soul. A person also has to “find God in personal experience.”

As a soul thirsting for the living God, I relate to what Tozer wrote decades ago. I’ve sat in the pew many times feeling like I’m watching a program when what I really want is to worship God. I’ve heard good sermons that really touched my heart but I’ve also listened to countless sermons that left my soul unsatisfied. In group Bible studies, I have been frustrated because people seem to care more about learning historical facts than about drawing closer to the living God.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.

John 4:23-24

The time has come to worship the Father in Spirit and in truth.

Lord, I want to seek you, I want to find you, I want to know you. In every season, in every moment, I will bring my heart and seek you first.

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First (Lauren Daigle)

Before I bring my need
I will bring my heart
Before I lift my cares
I will lift my arms
I wanna know You
I wanna find You
In every season
In every moment
Before I bring my need
I will bring my heart
And seek You