Counting The Cost
As you will see as this story unfolds, the cost is high! Such a pursuit demands denial of many desires, and causes the misjudgment of many people, even brothers and sisters in the Lord. Nevertheless, just like Young Christian from John Bunyan‘s tale of The Pilgrims Progress, we must put our fingers in our ears, and run on crying “Life! Life! Eternal Life!”
Jim Elliot stated a profound truth when he said, “He is no fool who gives up what he can not keep, to gain what he can not lose.” Psalm 63:8 says “My soul follows hard after you; your right hand upholds me . . .” That sounds contradictory to me. How can you be following, or as another translation says, Pursuing ardently, at the same time he is upholding us? What a strange paradox that is.
Then I realized that I was not pursuing in order to find him, but rather, pursuing in order to know him. Tozer taught that “to have found God and still 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 . . .”
Tozer went on to encourage us to:
Come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God. They mourned for Him, they prayed and wrestled and sought for Him day and night, in season and out, and when they had found Him, the finding was all the sweeter for the long seeking.
Moses used the fact that he knew God as an argument for knowing Him better. ‘Now, therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight’; and from there he rose to make the daring request, ‘I beseech thee, show me thy glory.’ God was frankly pleased with this display of ardor, the next day called Moses into the mount, and there in solemn procession made all His glory pass before Him.
David‘s life was a torrent of spiritual desire, and his psalms ring with the cry of the seeker and the glad shout of the finder. Paul confessed the mainspring of his life to be his burning desire after Christ. ‘That I may know Him,’ was the goal of his heart, and to this, he sacrificed everything. ‘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 refuse, that I may win Christ.’
I desperately want to encourage this mighty longing after God. I want to experience it in my own life! The emptiness we may experience in our hearts and the stiff wooden quality of our spiritual lives is a result of our lack of Holy desire. Complacency is the death of all spiritual growth. Steve Camp says:
There‘s safety in complacency but God‘s calling us out of our comfort zones into a life of complete surrender to the cross. To live dangerously is not to live recklessly but righteously and it is because of God‘s radical grace for us that we can risk living a life of radical obedience for Him.
I believe that driving desire has to present in our lives or there will be no manifestation of Christ! He waits to be wanted. It is too bad that with many of us he waits so long in vain.
According to Tozer, every age has its own characteristics.
“Today we are in an age of religious complexity. Everybody wants to add to the simplicity of Christ. You can hardly find the simplicity that is Christ in the lives of most Christians. Instead, we have programs, methods, tapes, books, organizations, and a bunch of nervous activities that take up our time and attention but can never satisfy the longings of our hearts. All of these things testify to the fact that we have an imperfect knowledge of God, and experience his peace hardly at all.”
If we are going to find God in the midst of all the religious externals, we must first make the decision to find him. “Whoever would draw near to God must first believe that he exists . . .” Now that sounds simple enough but very few have gone that far. Then we must proceed in the way of simplicity. Because after the last seminar and the last tape or book has said its final word, there is absolutely nothing we need other than God Himself.
In the past God spoke in various ways in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son.” Or as Michael Card sang, “His final Word was Jesus, there was nothing left to say . . .”
Tozer reminds us that when the Lord divided the land of Canaan among the tribes of Israel, Levi did not get any land! The Lord simply said to Levi, “I am your share and your inheritance.” To some, that might sound like a rip off, but “the man that has God as his only treasure, has everything he could possibly need.”
Many ordinary treasures the world has to offer may very well be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them, their enjoyment will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness. And if he must see them go, one after the other, he will hardly feel a sense of loss, because he has in that one treasure all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight.
O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‗Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.‘ Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.” ~A. W. Tozer
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