Monday, July 19, 2010

CHANGE AND POSSESSING

It's been quite some time since I've blogged anything. I'm going to give this another try.

I never know what I will write about until I sit down at the computer and my fingers touch the keys...so here goes.

Change is in the air. I've known it in my spirit for a year now. I don't know what God has around the corner, but I know it's getting close. In reality life is full of change, sometimes it's small changes that you hardly notice and other times the changes are large and impact your life in immediate and profound ways. I like change for the most part. I am often too easily bored.

Change is in large part an adventure in trusting our God with the details of our lives. Through change and many other things, I've learned and continue to learn to trust God's love for me, His wisdom, His will for my life, His sovereignty. Without a trust that is constantly in the process of being solidified, change would be overpowering. With a growing trust in the aspects of God's character listed above that I cling to, many changes have meant "adventure"-an adventure with God.

There have been and will be some changes in this life, that are painful. Some come through loss, betrayal, and illness. These are not an adventure that has made me "giddy" with anticipation, but they are still an adventure with God of another nature. Through these, God has continued His work in me-refining me, purifying me, maturing me. I do not like them AT ALL in the moment, but when I have come through it and am on the other side, I find peace in what God has been doing in my life through it.

I've been re-reading A. W. Tozer's, The Pursuit of God. In Chapter Two, The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing, he writes about the creation of man, "In the deep heart of man was a shrine where none but God was worthy to come." He continues, "Our woes began when God was forced out of His central shrine and things were allowed to enter [the shrine]. Within the human heart things have taken over. Men have now by nature no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer, but there in the moral dusk, stubborn aggressive usurpers fight among themselves for first place on the throne."

"This is not a mere metaphor, but an accurate analysis of our real spiritual trouble. There is within the human heart a tough, fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. It covets things with a deep fierce passion. The pronouns my and mine look innocent enough in print but their constant and universal use is significant. They express the real nature of the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do. They are verbal symptoms of our deep disease. The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. 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."

(Please don't stop here thinking this is all about giving away all you have and becoming a monk. It's much bigger and better than that.)

"Breaking this truth into fragments for our better understanding, it would seem that there is within each of us an enemy which we tolerate at our peril. Jesus called it 'life' and 'self', or as we would say, the self-life. It's chief characteristic is its possessiveness; the words gain and profit [Matthew 16:24-25] suggest this. To allow this enemy to live is, in the end, to lose everything. To repudiate it and give up all for Christ's sake is to lose nothing at last, but to preserve everything unto life eternal."

He goes on to reference Matthew 5:3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God." He says, "The blessed poor are no longer slaves to the tyranny of things. They have broken the yoke of the oppressor; and this they have done not by fighting but by surrendering. Though free from all sense of possessing, they yet possess all things. 'Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'

Tozer is not saying that to be "spiritual" we will not be blessed with things, he is writing about the tyranny of the need to possess things, the tyranny of allowing anything to become so important to us that it dethrones God and becomes central in our passions, desires, thoughts, and pursuits. Before I continue with that thought, I want to interject that "things" may be just that "things"(house, car, furniture, toys) but it is really anything that becomes so central in our lives that God is NOT. Things may be prestige, relationships, accolades, praise of man, power, position.

The central storyline in this chapter concerns Abraham's heart when God called him to sacrifice Isaac, the promised son. Tozer writes, "God let the suffering old man go through with it up to the point where He knew there would be not retreat, and then forbade him to lay a hand upon the boy. To the wondering patriarch He now says in effect, '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. Now you may have the boy, sound and well. Take him and go back to your tent." Abraham's heart was tested, the roots of possession were ripped out, and he was now free to love his son freely with God on the throne.

Tozer continued, "I have said that Abraham possessed nothing. Yet was not this poor man rich? Everything he had owned before was his still to enjoy: sheep, camels, herds and good of every sort. He had also his wife and his friends, and best of all he had his son Isaac safe by his side. He had everything, but he possessed nothing. There is the spiritual secret. There is the sweet theology of the heart which can be learned only in the school of renunciation."

I love this line from chapter two and have found it to be true through many life experiences, "Everything is safe which we commit to Him, and nothing is really safe which is not so committed."

What does all of this have to do with impending change? Sometimes even the adventure of change means letting go of something, someone, some place, in order to go with God. To go with God in peace, He has to dwell on the throne of your heart. In releasing all else to Him, knowing He loves me, knowing His perfect will is always the best, knowing He is sovereign, I know I can follow Him wherever He leads me and He will keep safe all that I've committed to Him.

I will end with a closing word and prayer from chapter two of The Pursuit of God. "If we would indeed know God in growing intimacy, we must go this way of renunciation. And if we are set upon the pursuit of God, He will sooner or later bring us to this test."

"Father, I want to know Thee, but my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without bleeding and I do not try to hid 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 Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus name, Amen."

2 comments:

Carol said...

Glad you are back! I've missed checking in with you.

Jim and Sandy said...

I'm glad to see that you decided to start blogging again. What a word "blog"...never even heard of it ten years ago.=)
I enjoyed today's post.