I’m currently reading Pursuit of Godby A.W. Tozer. I first read it eight years ago, but I wanted to re-read it because I remember how powerful it was at the time.
If I had to choose only one book to recommend that will challenge you in your walk with God, it would be this book! It will confront your idols and give you a grander picture of your relationship with Jesus Christ.
That’s exactly what is happening, again, as I read this book. The 2nd chapter, entitled The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing, retells the story of God’s testing of Abraham through the giving up of his son Isaac, the most-prized treasure in Abraham’s life.
His point is that gifts from God often wind up replacing God himself in our hearts. It was never intended to be this way. Here’s a line from page 22:
Things have become necessary to us, a development never originally intended. God’s gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution.
God confronted the idol of Abraham’s love for his son Isaac. God knew that Abraham treasured his son more than God himself, so he put him to the test.
Is God your most-prized possession?
Is He the thing you value and treasure most in this life? Is your relationship with Christ your utmost pursuit?
I am asking myself these questions, and am not liking the answer. It’s funny how the gifts of this world tend to steal time away from our real Treasure.
Abraham trusted God. He knew that God would raise Isaac from the dead, so he obeyed. And at the very moment before it became too late, God stopped Abraham and blessed him because he didn’t withhold his son from God, his most-prized possession!
Of this, Tozer offers a striking paraphrase of what God said to the patriarch in that moment:
It’s all right, Abraham. I never intended that you should actually slay the lad. I only wanted to remove him from the temple of your heart that I might reign unchallenged there. I wanted to correct the perversion that existed in your love.
Do you have everything and possess nothing?
Tozer says that although Abraham had everything (he was very rich, had a great family and the son he always wanted), he possessed nothing.
Abraham’s real treasures were inward and eternal, not external and temporal.
Many of us have a great spouse, family, career, blog, car, house, investment portfolio (insert your own blessing here), and we live as if those are our real treasures!
Tozer says the secret to an abundant spiritual life is realizing that we possess nothing.
By possess, Tozer does not mean we simply do not own our treasures, but rather he means that our treasures do not own us. In other words, we must consciously and intentionally perform heart surgery on ourselves so we remove the treasures from the center of our hearts and put God in his rightful place.
What treasures might God be confronting you with?
I am asking myself that question as I read through this chapter, and I’ve got an idea that God might be wanting me to give up a treasured possession that I love deeply within my heart.
How about you? What do you hold so dearly in your heart that gets in the way of your relationship with God?
What should you do if you recognize a treasure that has replaced God?
Tozer says on page 28-29:
- Put away your defenses. In other words, don’t justify your love for your treasures.
- Remember this is holy business. In other words, don’t deal with this issue cassually. Name the treasures of your heart. Name things and people one by one, and take seriously this call to heart surgery.
- Experience this truth. In other words, this isn’t just something we can visualize. We must live through Abraham’s bitter experiences in our own hearts if we are to experience the absolute blessing that follows the giving up of our most prized possessions.
Tozer ends with a dynamic prayer on page 30:
Father, I want to know you, but my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come.
Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that You may enter and dwell there without a rival.
Then You will make the place of Your feet glorious. Then will my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Yourself will be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus’ name, Amen.