Today has been a really strange one. Really strange. Because a couple of my managers were interviewing for my replacement at work.
As in the-person-who-will-start-doing-my-job-next-year-when-I’m-gone!
And that just feels crazy-kind-of-weird.
Because I know I’m finishing soon. But this means I’m really finishing soon.
There’s some strange mixes of emotions in that whole situation.
In 4 short weeks I will be leaving Inverness. There’s some even more strange mixes of emotions in that whole situation.
And so, like you do when you’re feeling a bit crazy-kind-of-weird, I’ve been reading some A.W. Tozer today (I’m sure it’s not just me who does that :)). Now, A.W. Tozer is one of my absolute-favourite-all-time-authors. Like, I hold the Bible in a living-Word-league of it’s own (Obviously!), but then in the other-book-league, people like Richard Foster, C.S. Lewis, Duncan Forrester and A.W. Tozer could pretty much provide me enough reading material to last a lifetime. Because this is the stuff that I read, and love, and then put down, and then pick up and read and read and read again. Because I want to learn and grow and change, and I think in times where the future is shifting, the desire to learn and grow and change just gets enlarged in it’s capacity.
So, I’ve been reading Tozer, and I’ve being praying through some of the challenges that have to be outworked through the things he writes about. I love it, because it just makes me so much more hungry for God and the depths of knowing Him.
It really does.
I love thinking about the idea of being preoccupied with God. The idea that we are called to an ‘everlasting preoccupation with God’. What does that even look like?
I mean, honestly, I’m so bad at this. My heart is in the right place, but I sit down to study the Word, and my cluttered mind is preoccupied with about 110 other things. Take this morning. I was reading Luke, I was focusing on the story, I was praying through the words, I was enjoying the time with God… And then, ‘Bang!’… I find myself thinking about what I need to buy from Tesco’s on the way home. Or I’m reminding myself that I need to write a gym cancellation letter. Or I’m mentally planning what I’m going to say in my first meeting of the day.
If I’m totally honest, I get totally preoccupied with so many other things, so incredibly easily. I sit down to pray for 2 hours with all the best intentions in the world… And then 10 minutes later I’m in a spiritual battle with my distracted subconscious about what I want for dinner that night.
But what would it look like to be preoccupied with the glory of God? Think about it. What would that even look like?
If I was walking around Tesco’s doing my shopping, and I was so preoccupied thinking about the heart of God, that I forgot to buy the milk or the washing up liquid? Because I was preoccupied with Him? What would that look like? If genuinely all the time, when I thought about the future, it was the glory of God falling on the nations that I desired, without my own pride or ego or need-to-be-needed getting in the way? If prayer really was the delight of my heart all of the time, instead of just some of it? If my heart literally broke over the thought of disobeying the commands of my Father?
Because I think that if I was genuinely preoccupied with Jesus, sin would look far less appealing. I really do.
One of the most challenging things that I revisit when I read the writing of A.W. Tozer, are his ‘Rules for Self-Discovery’.
Because this might throw up some hard things to consider… But man, it makes me so desperate to kneel again at the feet of Jesus, pray for His mercy and say, ‘Holy Spirit, I need You to help me need You. I need You to help me. I need You to be the thing I need most. I NEED YOU!’
So, Tozer suggested that to really test our heart-motivations, we should consider:
1. What we want most.
2. What we think about most.
3. How we use our money.
4. What we do with our leisure time.
5. The company we enjoy.
6. Who and what we admire.
7. What we laugh at.
Wow. I love that. I’m challenged by that. It’s simple. But it’s so, so, completely true.
Take a few minutes and answer those things…. Honestly.
Because what preoccupies my mind, preoccupies my heart. And what I give myself to financially, or in my time, or in my admiration… That reveals what’s going on, on the inside of me. And I long to keep changing so that I become more like Jesus, by being more preoccupied by Jesus. That He becomes my first thought. That He becomes my daydream. That I give my money to things that have eternal value. That I spent my time on things that will stand the fire of His judgement. That I am more moved by the Spirit of God than by the world. That I understand that meaning of true joy, and find my laughter in the holy rather than the crude.
Psalm 45 is a passage of Scripture that I just adore. It holds within it a prophetic picture of Christ, and a prophetic picture of the church. And it contains the key to happiness. It really does. Right in the middle of the Psalm, where the psalmist is describing Jesus, it says this:
You love righteousness and hate wickedness, and therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.
The oil of joy. True joy. Real joy. More than just surface laughter. Deep. Permanent. Perfect.
And what is the key?
Loving what is right and godly and holy, and hating what is wicked.
Sounds simple. Really doesn’t feel like it most of the time!
Because here’s the thing. We can try and change based on our own zeal or quest for perfection, but it doesn’t work. We all mess up. We all make mistakes. We all fall way, way, short of the mark. Let’s face it, we’ve all been there where we’ve tried to pray and metaphorically found our mind’s in Tescos.
But we don’t overcome wickedness by focusing on the wickedness. We overcome wickedness by becoming preoccupied with the greater glory of knowing Jesus. We overcome by loving righteousness, thinking about righteousness, hanging out with righteousness, and pouring all our time and energy into righteousness.
And who is the only One found righteous and the one One found worthy?
The One that I so desire will be my all consuming, eternally lasting and life transforming preoccupation.
So as I go into the weekend, I am challenged. To become more preoccupied. By the right things. By the best things. By the holy things.
Holy Spirit, I need You.
Oh, and if you haven’t read any A.W. Tozer, then I would recommend you fixing this at the first possible opportunity that you have. Start with this book ->
It could just rock your world a little bit! 😉