spiritual receptivity and excercise – cultivating habits for abundant living

After struggling a bit to get into Tozer’s “The Pursuit of God” I am currently eating it up. It’s great! The following passage stuck out to me the other day and I’m wondering, what do YOU identify with in the following passage? Which kind of person are you?

“Why do some persons “find” God in a way that others do not? Why does God manifest His presence to some and let multitudes of others struggle along in the half-light of imperfect Christian experience? Of course, the will of God is the same for all. He has no favorites within His household. All He has ever done for any of His children He will do for all of His children. The difference lies not with God but with us.

“Pick at random a score of great saints whose lives and testimonies are widely known. Let them be Bible characters or well-known Christians of post-biblical times. You will be struck instantly with the fact that the saints were not alike. Sometimes the unlikenesses were so great as to be positively glaring. How different, for example, was Moses from Isaiah; how different was Elijah from David; how unlike each other were John and Paul, St. Francis and Luther, Finney and Thomas à Kempis. The differences are as wide as human life itself – differences of race, nationality, education, temperament, habit and personal qualitites. Yet they all walked, each in his day, upon a high road of spiritual living far above the common way.

“Their differences must have been incidental and in the eyes of God of no significance. In some vital quality they must have been alike. What was it?

“I venture to suggest that the one vital quality which they had in common was spiritual receptivity. Something in them was a open to heaven, something which urged them Godward. Without attempting anything like a profound analysis, I shall say simply that they had spiritual awareness and that they went on to cultivate it until it became the biggest thing in their lives. They differed from the average person in that when they felt the inward longing they did something about it. They acquired the lifelong habit of spiritual response. They were not disobedient to the heavenly vision. As David put it neatly, “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek” (Psalm 27:8)…

“…Receptivity is not a single thing; rather, it is a compound, a blending of several elements within the soul. It is an affinity for, a bent toward, a sympathetic response to, a desire to have. From this it may be gathered that it can be present in degrees, that we may have little or more, depending upon the individual. It may be increased by exercise or destroyed by neglect. It is not a sovereign and irresistible force which comes upon us 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 to realize the purpose for which it was given.

“Failure to see this is the cause of a very serious breakdown in modern evangelicalism. The idea of cultivation and exercise, so dear to the saints of old, has now no place in our total religious picture. It is too slow, too common. We now demand glamour and fast-flowing dramatic action. A generation of Christians reared among push buttons and automatic machines is impatient of slower and less direct methods of reaching their goals. We have been trying to apply machine-age methods to our relations with God. We read our chapter, have our short devotions and rush away, hoping to make up for our deep inward bankruptcy by attending another gospel meeting or listening to another thrilling story told by a religious adventurer lately returned from afar.

“The tragic results of this spirit are all about us: shallow lives, hollow religious philosophies, the preponderance of the element of fun in gospel meetings, the glorification of men, trust in religious externalities, quasi-religious fellowships, salesmanship methods, the mistaking of dynamic personality for the power of the Spirit. These and such as these are the symptoms of an evil disease, a deep and serious malady of the soul…

“…Any man who by repentance and a sincere return to God will break himself out of the mold in which he has been held, and will go to the Bible itself for his spiritual standards, will be delighted with what he finds there…

“…The universal Presence is a fact. God is here. The whole universe is alive with His life. And He is no strange or foreign God, but the familiar Father of our Lord Jesus Christ whose love has for these thousands of years enfolded the sinful race of men. And always He is trying to get our attention, to reveal Himself to us, to communicate with us. We have within us the ability to know Him if we will but respond to His overtures. (And this we call pursuing God!) We will know Him in increasing degree as our receptivity becomes more perfect by faith and love and practice.”
-p.62-65, “The Pursuit of God” by A.W. Tozer

Keep in mind that Tozer wrote this in 1949. How much more is our society now a “push button” and “automatic machine” society? How has speeding things up in our lives affected our faith and relationship with God?

One thing I noticed when I was briefly (2 weeks!) back in Canada last March was how foods are now super-enhanced. I see it in the magazines that make their way to me here in my small village in Thailand. Boasting super-enhanced food, chock-full of extras, you are led to believe that a normal glass of milk or an apple from the tree are not good for you. Think of the “poor” people (not necessarily used in the sense of ‘without any money’ kind of poor; I mean it in the people who should be “pitied” sense of the word because they don’t have access to super-enhanced food – like me! ha ha ha) in the rest of the world who must eat rice from the field and vegetables from the garden and meat from the recently killed pig. Why are we putting so much energy and emphasis on super-enhancing when the real issue is why do we not do what we should be doing for a healthy lifestyle? Why do we neglect to change our diets and our activities to promote healthy living and instead look for fast fixes and quick vitamin and detoxifiers, etc. ? How is this issue reflected in our spiritual lives?

What kind of person are you right now in this moment? What kind of person do you long to become? Are you hungry for God? Are you actively pursuing Him? Are you exercising your receptivity to God or neglecting it? Are you willing to respond to God’s overtures?

-I am… pursuing God.

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