One thing I’ve been missing recently is contemplation and thoughtfulness. I could attribute that dirth to motherhood or to my lack of time due to my busy schedule, but the bottom line is that I choose how to spend my time – what to be busy with – and I’m not making time to reflect and contemplate life, God, existence, etc. Recently I decided to re-read A.W. Tozer’s classic book, The Knowledge of the Holy. I’m only a few chapters into it, but already it has been refreshing for my soul.
This morning I read of God’s self-existence. He exists independent of space and time, entirely self-dependent – He declares Himself to Moses as, “I AM THAT I AM.” As Tozer says, “Everything God is, everything that is God, is set forth in that unqualified declaration of independent being. Yet in God, self is not sin but the quintessence of all possible goodness, holiness and truth” (p. 29). I am reminded of my days as an undergraduate, unsure of whether God existed or, if He did, who He was. As I investigated and learned more and began to believe in the existence of the God of the Bible, I delighted in seeing Him in the material I was reading and studying in many of my classes, particularly in the area of philosophy. I know the Greeks didn’t get it all right, but I love how God shows up in their ideas. The God of the Bible, I AM THAT I AM, certainly is Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover. Plato points us toward the truth that this physical world does not comprise the entirety of reality. I remember one of my professors, speaking of Aristotle’s and Maimonides’ conception of God, talking about His creation ex nihilo, making an empassioned declaration that, “There is nothing like it in this world!” and challenging us to, “Go on, give it a try. Take something simple, a piece of chalk. You create that out of nothing at all! Make it appear right here! You can’t do it, can you? God created everything we see, everything that exists, out of nothing at all, and you can’t even make a piece of chalk! God is entirely Other. He creates in a way that we can’t even begin to imagine.”
Tozer echoes those ideas, writing, “Man for all his genius is but an echo of the original Voice, a reflection of the uncreated Light…Not man only, but everything that exists came out of and is dependent upon the continuing creative impulse” (p. 28). We obviously spend much of our time acting as if this is not true. We pretend that it is we, not God, who exist independent of all other beings – but we do not. We pretend that we are the ultimate judges of reality and truth – but we are not. We pretend that our convictions are the final standard of righteousness – but they are not.
Tozer presents us with the remedy for our self-centered delusions and rejections of God. “The old self-sins must die, and the only instrument by which they can be slain is the cross. ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me,’ said our Lord, and years later the victorious Paul could say, ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (p. 31).
Lord, let me humbly press on toward that goal!