Recently, I started rereading A.W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God. This little book is a favorite of mine as it brings a succinct but powerful punch. I have never read a chapter without some conviction. In his second chapter, he exhorts believers to possess nothing. While reading this chapter, recent thoughts and convictions echoing this theme circled in my mind.
I just read a quote from Corrie ten Boom, “I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that, I still possess.” Corrie’s statement rings true to Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:
“Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (NIV)
My natural tendency when I have something precious is to hold onto it tightly–not give it over to God with open hands. Perhaps, I struggle with this more than the average person, so you may not relate to following scenario as I have. Have you ever offered something to another in false generosity? In doing so, you have to hold something out with an open hand, but you are really hoping the other person doesn’t take it. There is a moment of vulnerability–fear of loss–before you can clasp it tight again all for yourself. It can be the simplest thing like a cookie or the more notable like an offer of money. Either way, if this has happened to you, you know the root of the problem. It’s the “self.” We want the best for ourselves, and if we get it, we want to keep it. Tozer elaborates on this malady and expresses the need for the painful ripping out of our selfish desires and pursuits by the hand of God. He uses the illustration of Abraham and Isaac on the altar of sacrifice to the Lord God to demonstrate this painful lesson.
Nothing we have should be of more value than God himself.
As I have been mulling over this, and wondering why it is still such a lesson for me to learn, I have been forced to look first at what I value. I’ve been forced because of the recent failing of my own body. I didn’t realize how much value I put on my feet–sounds silly, I know! You see, my mother has always struggled with issues with her feet which make the simplest task of finding shoes a chore. Usually what she has to select for the best comfort are not the “cutest” or most “fashion forward.” Thus growing up, I was far more conscious of my own feet and the blessed fact that I did not have such trouble. I loved shoe shopping because I could wear anything that I fancied. However, this all changed for me. In training for the half marathon this past spring, I injured my foot causing sesamoiditis. This inflammation in turn readjusted the alignment of my bones putting pressure on my toes and causing almost constant pain. Consequently, I can no longer wear half my shoes. The half that fit are in dire need of replacing, but the last two trips to the shoe store have resulted in returns. The pride I took in having “perfect” feet before has been humbled. As frustrated as I am with this new issue, I became aware of another thing that I tried to “possess” but could not actually keep. Really this is good, because it is one less thing I value, one less thing to hinder me before God. It is a reminder that this body will fail and pass away, and so it should not be the focus of my earthly efforts. It’s a reminder that I am mortal and fallible–a reminder to be humble. It’s given me a clarity to refocus on possessing less and being possessed more by God. I’ll take the pain for that end! Will you join me?