“God can be known in personal experience,” writes A.W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God. “A loving Personality dominates the Bible, walking among the trees of the garden and breathing fragrance over every scene. Always a Living Person is present, speaking, pleading, loving, working, and manifesting Himself whenever and wherever His people have the receptivity necessary to receive the manifestation.”
God can be known in personal experience. It’s a rather shocking thought. It’s a thought alien to every religion of the world – except Christianity.
When I became a Christian during my senior year in college, I have to say that I didn’t hear angels singing. I didn’t hear heavenly music. I didn’t feel some supernatural presence. And nothing seemed different. In fact, if I recall correctly, I prayed, and when I finished, I looked at the man with me and asked, “Is that it? Am I supposed to hear or feel anything?” (If you’d like to read an almost verbatim account of my Christian experience, you can read Part 4 of my novel Dancing Priest. What happens to one of the characters in that section is taken almost exactly from my own experience.)
Change did come, but it came slowly and over time. Statements or events or situations that would have gone over my head before or that I would have blown right by began to be understood in different ways. I began to see things I hadn’t seen before. I had insights that surprised me. And as counterintuitive as this may sound to many people, becoming a Christian made me more discerning, less willing to accept conventional wisdom, more questioning of what others took at face value.
This sounds like something G.K. Chesterton would have said. And he probably did.
The change in my heart enabled a change in my mind. But the heart had to change first.
“Faith enables our spiritual sense to function,” Tozer says.
For me, faith also enabled my intellectual sense to function. And it functioned together with my heart.
Faith created wholeness.
Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’ve been reading and discussing Tozer’s The Pursuit of God. To see more posts on this chapter, “Apprehending God,” please visit Sarah at Living Between the Lines. Next week we’ll conclude the discussion of this chapter.