I’m chewing on these excerpts, especially the lines I’ve highlighted in bold, from The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer (free Kindle version):
The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. (loc. 145)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. (loc. 446, 453)Our pursuit of God is successful just because He is forever seeking to manifest Himself to us. (loc 584)
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. (Loc 594, 599)They [saints] 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…As David put it neatly, “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” (loc 604, 609)
Though my computer keyboard was teeming with bacteria last week when the eager, curious student swabbed it for a science demonstration, I’m happy to report that the petri dish carefully labeled “Mrs. Kroeker’s Computer Keyboard” wasn’t the worst offender. Sure, we exclaimed over the yellow gunk growing vigorously in almost all of the petri dishes, but the one that practically sprouted arms and legs to climb out of the glass container was…the dish rag.Swap out your dish rag often. Wash in hot water. Use bleach.The teacher pointed out one of the dishes that was growing yellow gunk. “This one,” she said, “was the stair railing. We swabbed it, and then afterwards, I swiped some Purellon the same spot and swabbed a second time, to compare. And look!” She pointed to the petri dish labeled as the railing swiped with Purell. It showed only the tiniest specks of growth. The teacher exclaimed, “That stuff works!”Also, I’d like to report that as soon as I knew my keyboard had been swabbed, I searched the Internet for how to clean the thing and used these instructions to sterilize it. Next time you shake my hand, be not afraid.But if you ask to use my laptop to write a quick e-mail or check Facebook, please understand if I hand you a bottle of Purell, first. It’s nothing personal.
Charity joined me on a short road trip to hear a lecture by author Scott Russell Sanders. He offered a few remarks about the wonder of libraries and then read the short essay “Hunger for Books” from his book The Country of Language. In the hushed air of his small town library, he could “follow any question wherever it led, and all for free.” That was me. That was my childhood.
Like sunshine, like the urgency of spring, like bread, language is so familiar that we easily forget what an amazing gift it is…Surely this is what most clearly distinguishes us as a species, the ability to accumulate knowledge and to pass it on. We pass it on by word of mouth, we pass it on by example, we pass it on in films and tapes and disks, in magazines and newspapers, but above all we pass it on in books. (30, 31)
At risk of sounding like a technophobe, he applauded the strengths of the printed, bound, physical book. The kind we carry with us, tucked in our backpacks, purses or pockets.
I’m still devoted to the humble book. A book requires no electricity. It is portable, made for the hand and pocket. It invites but does not demand our attention, and it leaves us time to think. We can enter or leave a book just as we choose, and we can interrupt our reading to burp a baby or pay a bill or ponder a cloud. A good book appeals to what is best in us, without trying to sell us anything. (31)
As he read, I found myself in the description of the curious kid searching for answers to simple questions about constellations and Native Americans and muskrats. I loved the library. I would check out an armful and drink deeply of the ideas, explanations, stories and inspiration. Books were my food and the library was an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord.
[T]he best books invite us to share in a sustained, complex, subtle effort to make sense of things, to understand some portion of our humanity and our universe. As long as there are people hungry for such understanding, there will be people hungry for books…even now, after devouring so many thousands of books, I am as ravenous as ever. (32)
Hearing him read, I heard, even felt, myself in his rich descriptions of libraries, books, words, ideas. I sat in that chair—Ann the reader, the writer—and I grew hungry for more: more from him (I bought two of his books), and more from me (I resolved to work harder at my craft).
Charity and I lingered after the lecture to ask Scott Russell Sanders (SRS) a couple of questions. I asked about improving my craft. I mentioned that MFA programs had tempted me as a way to take my work to the next level. Should I explore that? Or is there a way to achieve a level of excellence and artistry on my own?If I wanted to pursue an MFA, he suggested I look into low-residency programs. But he assured me that finding like-minded writers to form a writing group could achieve a similar end. Gather some working writes who share an inner drive to develop themselves, he said. A group like that could provide a rewarding level of stimulation, evaluation and interaction.The group could read the same book together (poetry, essays, fiction) and discuss why it works—dissect it and learn from the writing in order to apply those principles to our own projects.He thought it could be done.Charity’s feeling pretty well situated, as she recently joined a writer’s group committed to that very process.I figure at the very least, I can read and dissect some books on my own. I bought two of SRS’s books. Perhaps I’ll start with those. After all, as he read, my heart raced a little and I held my breath. When he paused between selections, I scribbled in my notebook, “I want to write like that.” And then I underlined it. Twice.
A discussion with my 10-year-old son:Son: You’re like God to me.Me: Really? How?Son: I mean you’re like a God example to me.Me: I’m not perfect, though. And God’s perfect. So, is that such a good idea for me to be an example of God?Son: It’s okay. No one is a perfect example, because no one is perfect. Everyone sins. I just mean that parents in Christian homes can be that for their children. Christian parents are like God to their kids because you love them, you teach them to do the good things and not the bad. That’s pretty much like God. He tells you what to do and what not to do and loves us infinitely.Me: We do that?Son: Yes!Me: That’s a pretty big responsibility.Son: It’s not really a responsibility. It’s just something you naturally do. You naturally love me and teach me.All of that occurred shortly after he finished his third bowl of Cocoa Puffs.
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Notebook and keyboard images by Ann Kroeker. All rights reserved. You may “pin” in a way that links back to this post.