“In my creature impatience I am often caused to wish that there were some way to bring modern Christians into a deeper spiritual life painlessly by short, easy lessons; but such wishes are vain. No shortcut exists. God has not bowed to our nervous haste nor embraced the methods of our machine age. It is well that we accept the hard truth now: The man who would know God must give time to Him.” – Aiden Wilson Tozer
In the last Adventure Blog post, the choice to pursue our God, to know Him intimately, was the focus. How that choice is prioritized practically is the focus of this post. The most obvious evidence of the choice to pursue our God is giving Him significant time every day. Does this mean making sure we spend a bit of time most mornings reading a devotional about our God or about “principles for Christian living?” It is deeper than that, very much deeper.
The time we spend in pursuit of our God must be significant – we cannot press on in pursuit of our God with half measures, passionless religiosity, or with fifteen or twenty minutes each day doing “devotions.” Such activity lacks the devotion this pursuit requires. The clear pattern of worshiping and pursuing our God in the scriptures is that of giving our God the first, best, and most of everything. Other things must go to make room. We will not find time for our God. The world will see that we never find it. He is so important that we must make time for Him, which will mean laying aside other pursuits and distractions. It will require us to simplify our living to make room for this pursuit, to tone down the incessant noise and busyness of our modern world. Brother Lawrence, the dishwasher in a monastery some 500 years ago, wrote, “Let us occupy ourselves entirely in knowing God. The more we know Him, the more we will desire to know Him. As love increases with knowledge, the more we know God, the more we will truly love Him. We will learn to love Him equally in times of distress or in times of great joy.”
In his book, “The Knowledge of the Holy,” Tozer stated, “Secularism, materialism, and the intrusive presence of things have put out the light in our souls and turned us into a generation of zombies.” The religious person can be one of Tozer’s zombies as much as the irreligious person. Like secularism, materialism, and things, religiosity often interferes with spiritual vitality, for it encrusts the pursuit of our God with distracting rituals and activities intended to reform our behaviors. These do little to bring us near to our God.
What Brother Lawrence discovered that the calling to love our God deeply (see recent “climb Free” posts on this blog) is fulfilled when we walk the path of knowing our God intimately. For whom can we deeply love that we do not know intimately? A deep love for our God is not an optional or spare-time endeavor for the disciple of Jesus. It is our first, foremost, and greatest commandment. We must then, like Lawrence, choose to “…occupy ourselves entirely in knowing God….” We must seek Him with all our heart, and not be satisfied with the “viewing hours for God” that comprise most church schedules, or the thin soup of pre-packaged devotional readings meant to be digested in as little time as possible each day.
The pursuit of intimacy with our God begins with an earnest desire to know Him, and an equally earnest commitment of significant time and passion to the pursuit. Jeremiah 29:11-13 said this: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” If we would apprehend our God on an intimate level, we will have to seek Him with all our hearts, with all diligence. We must pursue intimacy with Him as we would when we deepen a friendship with a highly-valued person with whom we intend share a mutual love. Again, from Tozer, “Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth.”
How to begin this pursuit will be the topics of the next several posts on this subject.