an everyday sacrament

As I close the last chapter on Tozer’s book, The Pursuit of God, I am struck yet again and how the Lord truly brings books, people, songs etc into my life to encourage and move me along close to Him. I’ve learned and been convicted of much in this book, but primarily I’ve learned that I can’t just be convicted…I have to move out of that conviction. I have to push through and press on.

This is what I know the Pursuit of God is:
a total conformity to Him
not a pious idealism, but an integral part of opening up every act of my life
a willing surrender
an aggressive faith
getting God into focus
taking God at His word
an adoration – not an explanation
a response to His overtures
an answer to the inward longing
a worshiping heart
an entrance into the Holy of Holies
a constant exaggeration of the abundance of His love for us
pushing through into His presence
a sweet and mysterious mingling
a heart where He reigns unchallenged
seeking God-alone (not God-and)
a constant pursuit

~taken from A.W. Tozer’s book The Pursuit of God

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moving into humility

Direct my footsteps according to your word.
Let no sin rule over me.
Redeem me…that I may obey your precepts.
Make your face shine upon your servant and teach me your decrees.

~ Psalm 119:133-135

Let no sin rule over me… This has been the refrain of the last few days. In so many ways it’s kind of become the song of my life. I feel God calling me to a deep sense of humility. As I parent. As I love my husband. As I keep a home and work within a strict budget. As I try and develop a hobby into a business. He is molding me and changing my mindset. That everything I do would be a deep reflection of Him and not me. That as I bake, shop, and create my mind would not be thinking how great I am (oh how hard that is to write, but how true it is), but instead would be singing His praises for the abilities and talents He has bestowed on me.
How much more joy is stirred up within me when I create something while praying that He would bless the work of my hands – that it would bring glory to Him alone!

He is developing a meekness in me. Not an inability to accept a compliment, but rather the ability to give that compliment to Him. To take that praise and give it to the Lord. For He is the one that has created that space in my life and given me those abilities.

Oh, that my mind would become like the meek man that Tozer writes about: one “who cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has decided that the esteem of the world isn’t worth the effort.”

205. for messed up bread…that is redeemed in the end!
206. for the refrains from a little girl as we return home from church
207. for the 1,000+ legos scattered around my house that are turned into something amazing by my talented young boy
208. for 2 extra days at home with the kiddos this weekend
209. for 2 extra days at home with my husband
210. for a rainy monday at home together
211. listening to 2 children interacting with each other with grace
212. watching the excitement that a new game can bring
213. the stamina of my young boy as he stands for 2 hours and cheers on his teammates, yet never plays
214. cuddling up on the bed with that young boy for a few minutes these last few nights as we do breathing treatments (not so much the breathing treatments as much as the time set aside for them!)
215. a basement that didn’t flood after 24+ hours of nonstop rain
216. the joy on my husband’s face as he completes a long standing project
217. the anticipation of a new kitchen faucet
218. a day running errands…including seeing old friends
219. finding God in the ordinary of my day: as I cook, clean and sew
220. the stirring in my heart to find Him
221. this song, which causes my eyes to close and just stop and listen

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Noun: A persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury.
Verb: Be resentfully unwilling to give, grant, or allow (something).

Not a word that anyone would want constantly floating within their world. But in the past week, this is the word that keeps coming to the surface in my life. While I like to think I forgive easily…I don’t. I might forgive on the surface, but that real heart change sort of forgiveness doesn’t come easy. It doesn’t come easy because it comes with a price. I want something to hold onto. Something that I can bring up again when my vulnerability is damaged again. I know it’s going to happen. Jesus said repeatedly that this world is trouble and to offer myself up to others is to open myself up to hurt. But that is what we are called to do.

So, I have to let go of the grudge. I have to let go of my reputation and what I want. As Tozer prays:
Be Thou exalted over my reputation. Make me ambitious to please Thee even if as a result I must sink into obscurity and my name be forgotten as a dream.” . I have to let go of the grudge. To let go of that persistent feeling and resentful unwillingness. I can’t be free until I do.

I have to let God move in me and make me what He wants me to be…instead of me asking Him to make me into what I want. And that goes for others. For my children, for my husband and for my friends. I have to release my desire for what I want them to be and let God make them what He is making them to be.

“...we must take God as He is and adjust our lives accordingly – we insist upon trying to modify Him and to bring Him nearer to our own image.

May God never stop His pursuit of me: His pursuit of making me less of me and more like Him.

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The constant refrain in my life lately is “let me do it”.
As in the Lord telling me over and again…”I’ve got it”
Funny that I would strive to write a blog about God’s pursuit of us and yet struggle so greatly with it. As I think this week about how God is pursuing me and revealing Himself in my ordinary life, I am reminded of how it’s so not about me.
I can’t pursue Him perfectly.
I can’t believe in Him perfectly.
I can’t have faith in Him perfectly.
I can’t do anything.
And He doesn’t require anything of me beyond my gaze being fixed on Him.

How simple is that? Faith isn’t something I can strive for. It is merely something that happens as my gaze becomes more and more fixated on Him. As Tozer reminds me, there is no amount of “tinkering with my soul” that I can do that will increase my faith. It is merely “a continuous gaze of the heart at the Triune God

Romans 10:8-10 reminds me
that the Word is in Me (in ME!)
it is in my mouth and in my heart.
All I have to do is confess and believe.
All I have to do is take my eyes off myself and focus them on Him.

Faith is simple. It requires nothing: no special place, equipment or time. There is no season of life that is better. But it isn’t a once-done event either. I cannot wake up one day, declare my faith in the Lord and then walk out. It is a repeated, continuous centering, cultivating of my heart onto His.

But it is not easy. Sin so easily clouds our vision. We can easily be consumed by the things and people that are around us. But Tozer reminds me that it is merely a habit, a response that needs to be formed. That as our gaze fixes on Him more and more, those times we will look away will become less attention stealing. Sin might cloud our eyes or tempt us away from His heart, but as our habit grows, as our hearts are more and more cultivated, the desire to focus on Him will become greater.

With Thee, to behold is to give life;
tis unceasingly to impart sweetest love of Thee;
tis to inflame me to love of Thee by love’s imparting,
and to feed me by inflaming
and by feeding to kindle my yearning,
and by kindling to make me drink of the dew of gladness
and by drinking to infuse in me a fountain of life
and by infusing to make it increase and endure.

~ Nicolas of Cusa

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God is here

You fought
but you were just too weak
so you lost
all the things you try to keep
now you’re on your knees, you’re on your knees

But wait,
everything can change,
in a moments time you don’t have to be afraid,
cause fear is just a lie
open up your eyes

And he’ll break
open the skies to save
those who cry out his name
the one the wind and waves obey
is strong enough to save you

Look now is not too late
lift up your head
let the rain fall on your face
you’re not far from grace, your not too far from grace

I know the weight of this world can take you down like gravity
I know the current of yourself can take you out, out to sea
but hold on, hold on

I started my day today reading chapter five in Tozer’s The Pursuit of God and I was reminded of this song and how far I’ve come…check that…how far He has brought me. More than that,  how much He has cultivated my response to Him. Back in the spring when I was beyond myself with panic attacks and fears we went to see Tenth Avenue North and Third Day. I had bought the music from Tenth Avenue North, but I hadn’t really listened to it much beyond a couple of songs. About two songs into their portion of the concert they played this song and put up the lyrics and I just about collapsed into tears. I was about a month away from my big trip to Colorado, a month away from a terrific storm that passed through our area and about 3 months into really working through my fears. It was amazing.

Tozer declares that “there is no point at which we can become closer to God – we are exactly as close to Him at one point than another.” The issue is not where He is, but our response to Him. It is us that moves, neglects, does or doesn’t respond. It is us that must be open and receptive. It is us that must respond to “inward longing” that is in us. His Spirit is in us for a reason, it’s not there because God needs us. It’s not there because (as the lead singer of this song declares) because we complete Him.

God is the one who saves. God is the one who completes us. His love is poured out in us. We can all have the same experience as Moses or Paul (or name anyone). We can all climb up the mountain and come away with a radiance beyond all imagining. But it’s not going to happen with our “machine-age methods toward our relations to God.” It’s not a matter of me having all the right answers for people or all the right reminders posted all over my house. It’s a matter of me responding to that tug in my spirit. It’s me “responding to His overtures”.

But it’s an ordinary thing. “it is not a sovereign and irresistible force which comes upon as a seizure from above. It is a gift of God, indeed, but one which must be recognized and cultivated as any other gift if we are the realize the purpose for which it was given.”

May I respond as David:
You’ve said seek my face, my heart says to you, Your face Lord do I seek. (Ps. 27:8)

Where are you finding God in the ordinary today?

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