There are lots of devotional books out there in Christian culture. When I decided that Wednesdays would be the time I would share something I have read in a book or blog I knew I wanted to include something from one of my favorite devotional authors: A.W. Tozer. But I was hesitating to include him this morning because his devotionals hit so hard that they maybe should be called toe-stomping sermons in miniature book form rather than “devotionals.” Many devo books keep things simple and light-hearted. They include poetry or song lyrics, a short Bible verse and a cute or touching story that goes along with the Scriptural message of the day. Not A.W….no he is oblivious to the fact that I am reading his devo at 7am and am not ready for the gut-wrenching, hard-nosed, in-your-face truth that he presents so eloquently. So, I usually read one chapter a week…I read it all in one morning but then chew on it all week long. Here’s an excerpt from what I read yesterday in his book “The Pursuit of God“:
“God is so vastly wonderful, so utterly and completely delightful that He can, without anything other than Himself, meet and overflow the deepest demands of our total nature, mysterious and deep as that nature is….The veil [that keeps us from His presence] is removed by the rending of Jesus’ flesh, with nothing on God’s side to prevent us from entering, why do we tarry without?…It is the presence of a veil in our own hearts which remains there still shutting out the light and hiding the face of God from us. It is the veil of our fleshly fallen nature living on, unjudged within us. It is woven of the fine threads of the self-life, the hyphenated sins of the human spirit…To be specific, the self-sins are these: self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love…Self is the opaque veil that hides the face of God from us. It can be removed only in spiritual experience, never by mere instruction…There must be a work of God in destruction before we are free…We must bring our self-sins to the cross for judgment…God must do it for us. Our part is to yield and trust…We must insist on it being done and not simply rest content with the doctrine without the practice… The cross is rough and it is deadly, but it is effective. It does not keep its victim hanging there forever. There comes a moment when its work is finished and the suffering victim dies. After that is resurrection glory and power, and the pain is forgotten for the joy that the veil is taken away and we have entered in actual spiritual experience the Presence of the living God!”
Wow. That is a far cry from the usual “be-the-best-you-embrace-your-destiny-God-loves-you-just-the-way-you-are” devotionals that fill the shelves of the Christian book store. Don’t get me wrong. God does love you just the way you are (Rom. 5:8). He does have a special plan for your life (Jer. 29:11). And He wants you to be the best you can be (1 Cor. 15:58). But sometimes it’s hard to tell a Christian devotional from a secular self-help book. The focus is all on our selves, our own strengths and abilities, rather than God and His greatness. That’s what I like about A.W. He is not afraid to call me out. He calls sin…well…sin, not mistakes or obstacles or shortcomings. He combats the world’s idea that we, in our own strength, can do anything we put our mind to. Rather he emphasizes our great need for God and God’s great love for us. In other words, he puts me in my place and reminds me that I am not (as we like to say at my house) “all that AND a bag of chips.”
What sort of devotionals do you read? What are your favorites? Have you ever read a devo that hits hard?