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  • THE SAINT Must WALK ALONE

    This is an outstanding passage of one of A.W. Tozer's books. Please read it with great care and much prayer. Read it several times and you might be drawn closer to The Lord Jesus.


    THE SAINT Must WALK ALONE

    by A.W. Tozer


    Most of the world's great souls have been lonely. Loneliness

    seems to be one price the saint must pay for his saintliness.


    In the morning of the world (or should we say, in that strange

    darkness that came soon after the dawn of man's creation), that

    pious soul, Enoch, walked with God and was not, for God took

    him; and while it is not stated in so many words, a fair inference

    is that Enoch walked a path quite apart from his contemporaries.


    Another lonely man was Noah who, of all the antediluvians, found

    grace in the sight of God; and every shred of evidence points to

    the aloneness of his life even while surrounded by his people.


    Again, Abraham had Sarah and Lot, as well as many servants and

    herdsmen, but who can read his story and the apostolic comment

    upon it without sensing instantly that he was a man "whose soul

    was alike a star and dwelt apart"
    ? As far as we know not one word

    did God ever speak to him in the company of men.
    Face down he

    communed with his God, and the innate dignity of the man forbade

    that he assume this posture in the presence of others. How sweet

    and solemn was the scene that night of the sacrifice when he saw

    the lamps of fire moving between the pieces of offering. There,

    alone with a horror of great darkness upon him, he heard the voice

    of God and knew that he was a man marked for divine favor.


    Moses also was a man apart. While yet attached to the court of

    Pharaoh he took long walks alone, and during one of these walks

    while far removed from the crowds he saw an Egyptian and a

    Hebrew fighting and came to the rescue of his countryman. After

    the resultant break with Egypt he dwelt in almost complete

    seclusion in the desert. There, while he watched his sheep alone,

    the wonder of the burning bush appeared to him, and later on the

    peak of Sinai he crouched alone to gaze in fascinated awe at the

    Presence, partly hidden, partly disclosed, within the cloud and fire.


    The prophets of pre-Christian times differed widely from each other,

    but one mark they bore in common was their enforced loneliness.

    They loved their people and gloried in the religion of the fathers, but

    their loyalty to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their

    zeal for the welfare of the nation of Israel drove them away from the

    crowd and into long periods of heaviness. "I am become a stranger

    unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children," cried

    one
    and unwittingly spoke for all the rest.


    Most revealing of all is the sight of that One of whom Moses and

    all the prophets did write, treading His lonely way to the cross. His

    deep loneliness was unrelieved by the presence of the multitudes.


    'Tis midnight, and on Olive's brow

    The star is dimmed that lately shone;

    'Tis midnight; in the garden now,

    The suffering Savior prays alone.

    'Tis midnight, and from all removed

    The Savior wrestles lone with fears;

    E'en the disciple whom He loved

    Heeds not his Master's grief and tears.


    - William B. Tappan


    He died alone in the darkness hidden from the sight of mortal man

    and no one saw Him when He arose triumphant and walked out of

    the tomb,
    though many saw Him afterward and bore witness to

    what they saw. There are some things too sacred for any eye but

    God's to look upon. The curiosity, the clamor, the well-meant but

    blundering effort to help can only hinder the waiting soul and make

    unlikely if not impossible the communication of the secret

    message of God to the worshiping heart.


    Sometimes we react by a kind of religious reflex and repeat

    dutifully the proper words and phrases even though they fail to

    express our real feelings and lack the authenticity of personal

    experience. Right now is such a time. A certain conventional

    loyalty may lead some who hear this unfamiliar truth expressed for

    the first time to say brightly, "Oh, I am never lonely. Christ said, 'I

    will never leave you nor forsake you,' and 'Lo, I am with you always.'

    How can I be lonely when Jesus is with me?"


    Now I do not want to reflect on the sincerity of any Christian soul,

    but this stock testimony is too neat to be real. It is obviously what

    the speaker thinks should be true rather than what he has proved

    to be true by the test of experience. This cheerful denial of

    loneliness proves only that the speaker has never walked with God

    without the support and encouragement afforded him by society.


    The sense of companionship which he mistakenly attributes to the

    presence of Christ may and probably does arise from the presence

    of friendly people. Always remember: you cannot carry a cross in

    company. Though a man were surrounded by a vast crowd, his

    cross is his alone and his carrying of it marks him as a man apart.

    Society has turned against him; otherwise he would have no cross.

    No one is a friend to the man with a cross. "They all forsook Him,

    and fled."



    The pain of loneliness arises from the constitution of our nature.

    God made us for each other. The desire for human companionship

    is completely natural and right. The loneliness of the Christian

    results from his walk with God in an ungodly world, a walk that

    must often take him away from the fellowship of good Christians

    as well as from that of the unregenerate world. His God-given

    instincts cry out for companionship with others of his kind, others

    who can understand his longings, his aspirations, his absorption in

    the love of Christ; and because within his circle of friends there are

    so few who share inner experiences, he is forced to walk alone.

    The unsatisfied longings of the prophets for human understanding

    caused them to cry out in their complaint, and even our Lord

    Himself suffered in the same way.


    The man who has passed on into the divine Presence in actual

    inner experience will not find many who understand him. A certain

    amount of social fellowship will of course be his as he mingles

    with religious persons in the regular activities of the church, but

    true spiritual fellowship will be hard to find. But he should not

    expect things to be otherwise. After all he is a stranger and a

    pilgrim, and the journey he takes is not on his feet but in his heart.


    He walks with God in the garden of his own soul - and who but

    God can walk there with him?
    He is of another spirit from the

    multitudes that tread the courts of the Lord's house. He has seen

    that of which they have only heard
    , and he walks among them

    somewhat as Zacharias walked after his return from the altar when

    the people whispered, "He has seen a vision."


    The truly spiritual man is indeed something of an oddity. He lives

    not for himself but to promote the interests of Another. He seeks

    to persuade people to give all to his Lord and asks no portion or

    share for himself. He delights not to be honored but to see his

    Savior glorified in the eyes of men. His joy is to see his Lord

    promoted and himself neglected. He finds few who care to talk

    about that which is the supreme object of his interest, so he is

    often silent and preoccupied in the midst of noisy religious

    shoptalk. For this he earns the reputation of being dull and

    overserious, so he is avoided and the gulf between him and

    society widens. He searches for friends upon whose garments he

    can detect the smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory

    palaces, and finding few or none, he, like Mary of old, keeps these

    things in his heart.


    It is this very loneliness that throws him back upon God. "When

    my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me

    up." His inability to find human companionship drives him to seek

    in God what he can find nowhere else. He learns in inner solitude

    what he could not have learned in the crowd - that Christ is All in

    All, that He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification

    and redemption, that in Him we have and possess life's summum

    bonum.


    Two things remain to be said. One, that the lonely man of whom

    we speak is not a haughty man, nor is he the holier-than-thou,

    austere saint so bitterly satirized in popular literature. He is likely

    to feel that he is the least of all men
    and is sure to blame himself

    for his very loneliness. He wants to share his feelings with others

    and to open his heart to some like-minded soul who will

    understand him, but the spiritual climate around him does not

    encourage it, so he remains silent and tells his griefs to God alone.


    The second thing is that the lonely saint is not the withdrawn man

    who hardens himself against human suffering and spends his days

    contemplating the heavens. Just the opposite is true. His

    loneliness makes him sympathetic to the approach of the

    brokenhearted and the fallen and the sin-bruised. Because he is

    detached from the world, he is all the more able to help it. Meister

    Eckhart taught his followers that if they should find themselves in

    prayer and happen to remember that a poor widow needed food,

    they should break off the prayer instantly and go care for the

    widow. "God will not suffer you to lose anything by it,"
    he told

    them. "You can take up again in prayer where you left off and the

    Lord will make it up to you." This is typical of the great mystics

    and masters of the interior life from Paul to the present day.

    The weakness of so many modern Christians is that they feel too

    much at home in the world.
    In their effort to achieve restful

    "adjustment" to unregenerate society they have lost their pilgrim

    character and become an essential part of the very moral order

    against which they are sent to protest. The world recognizes them

    and accepts them for what they are. And this is the saddest thing

    that can be said about them. They are not lonely, but neither are

    they saints.


    ~(Tozer extract from his book: 'The Dwelling Place of God').
    Last edited by Lou Newton; June 22, 2017, 11:42 AM.

  • #2
    Does anyone have a comment about this passage from Tozer's book. Do you agree or do you disagree. Does this encourage you who are on a walk with the Lord with few to walk with.

    Comment


    • #3
      Well, I am definitely not a “great soul” for I am not lonely, although often alone. Sadness, desperation, anger, loneliness are just a few feelings which accompanied my struggle with the LORD. Ever since He won – I’ve never been lonely – but victorious in Him.

      I suppose Tozer might judge me with his words, “A certain conventional loyalty may lead some who hear this unfamiliar truth expressed for the first time to say brightly, "Oh, I am never lonely. Christ said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you,' and 'Lo, I am with you always.' How can I be lonely when Jesus is with me?"

      I do identify with Tozer’s words, “their loyalty to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their zeal for the welfare of the nation of Israel drove them away from the crowd and into long periods of heaviness. "I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children," cried one and unwittingly spoke for all the rest.”

      I do not desire or think the support and encouragement afforded him (me) by society” has ever been worth the price. Just this past day I was remembering my first opportunity for fornication, she was a beautiful girl and sexy girl who was quite the aggressor, and how Christ in me made such a thing impossible. And so has it been with my life. Just as Tozer wrote, “No one is a friend to the man with a cross. "They all forsook Him, and fled." Long ago, I have given up on being understood. I am either a possessor of truth or a fool of deception – but I cannot be what I am not.

      Every time I hear the pledge of allegiance to the USA, see the American flag, here the Star Spangled Banner, here talk of patriotism – my thoughts are, "This world is not my home – I’m just passing through."

      It is a fact, “He finds few who care to talk about that which is the supreme object of his interest, so he is often silent and preoccupied in the midst of noisy religious shoptalk. For this he earns the reputation of being dull and overserious, so he is avoided and the gulf between him and society widens.” I hope it is because I am consumed with Christ, and near Him I know my wickedness.

      Because I am an introvert, I must have alone time. Obviously, Tozer was an extrovert.
      My issue is just the opposite of Tozer’s. I wish to be a secluded monk with my Bible and the Lord – but the Holy Ghost forbids such a selfish indulgence.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Lou Newton View Post
        Does anyone have a comment about this passage from Tozer's book. Do you agree or do you disagree. Does this encourage you who are on a walk with the Lord with few to walk with.
        Some part of me feels great, because I identify more and more like I'm by myself. But another part of me feels quite sad because I see where I do not measure up to a saint. I also see that hardly anyone wants to go this route, nor is able to recognize the superficial. I can attest to the comment that if you say you are not lonely, than likely you've never talked to God. So much of the church today is superficial and probably hasn't talked to God in the quiet place. It makes great sense that you carry a cross alone. Like reading past the surface of the scriptures and seeing what circumstances dictate what they mean.

        Comment


        • #5
          Under “"General Discussions"” I posted some thoughts which included Tozer under the article “"Thinking about our political differences”."

          Edit by Lou: I took the liberty to copy Glen remarks about Tozer here:

          Lou's several posts of A.W. Tozer’'s writings, and particularly the last one has me thinking about several things. My brother is also exhorted by Tozer'’s writings as doubtlessly are a number of others. I have read The Pursuit of God and bios and incidents of his life and very much admire his accomplishments. Tozer'’s writings are insightful and meaningful for me, but I do not find them as inspirational as my favorite books.

          These differences in what believers find inspirational, etc. are what interests me. Works which I and others find inspirational are not so esteemed by some other believers. I am suggesting, at a spiritual level, these differences exposes our different needs and at a mental or psychological level may expose how we process language differently.

          I suspect language is processed differently because of brain structure, but not brain structure alone. Axiology* must impact the value each individual places upon particular words and ways of thinking. There are several social scientists measuring the individual’s relative hierarchy of a given set of values. Depending upon the given set of values, how much importance an individual places on a value compared to the other values will group individuals of similar values together. These groups when questioned as to their political, social, and religious preferences will be found to be philosophical similar. Even their belief about their own dependence upon emotional, intuitive, or rational thinking can be grouped from what they consider most valuable out of a given set of values concerning decision making, education, intelligence, reason, science, faith and God.

          So it may be, that how A.W. Tozer’'s writings impact us may be more about us than it is about him. However, this is not intended to say his writings are diminished in any way just because some receive less of a benefit from them.

          It may also be why the following examples have been so very popular among the masses while others have rejected their teaching as well as that of most motivational speakers.

          Norman Vincent Peale - Power of Positive thinking
          Bill Gothard - Institute in Basic Life Principles
          Zig Zigler – See You at the Top
          Rick Warren – The Purpose Driven Life
          Joel Osteen - Your Best Life Now

          Recognizing there are aspects of not being a Zig Ziggler or a Billy Graham which limits ones appeal to most people is also the recognition of ones limited ability to influence or impact others – probably for the reasons above and in my case, because of ones own limited abilities as a presenter or preacher. This is the essence of what thinking about Tozer has reminded me and reminded me of the impetus for stopping the construction work for several Bible studies. It doesn’t really matter how well the studies are presented there will be no impact.

          All my major Bible studies were thought to be projects that would benefit believers. In the past couple of years there has been an increasingly awareness that my efforts are futile for a variety of reasons. Part of becoming aware of this is the experience of several on line forums. I am shocked at how poorly Christians communicate. Many can only understand what they are thinking and not what was written. The number of posts that are made just trying to say they are right, the entrenched non biblical ideas, the lack of objectivity, the lack of ministry, the lack of any attempts at a constructive Bible study, the unwillingness to learn, and on and on. There are a few who attempt to express Christian charity but they usually end up being hijacked by the others. This whole process has added to the comprehension of my inability to have an impact – Tozer just inticed me to revisit these thoughts, and I thought you might find my view point intriguing on why people receive and value material differently.

          *Axiology is the study of values
          Last edited by Lou Newton; June 25, 2017, 06:54 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by glen smith View Post
            Well, I am definitely not a “great soul” for I am not lonely, although often alone. Sadness, desperation, anger, loneliness are just a few feelings which accompanied my struggle with the LORD. Ever since He won – I’ve never been lonely – but victorious in Him.

            I suppose Tozer might judge me with his words, “A certain conventional loyalty may lead some who hear this unfamiliar truth expressed for the first time to say brightly, "Oh, I am never lonely. Christ said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you,' and 'Lo, I am with you always.' How can I be lonely when Jesus is with me?"

            I do identify with Tozer’s words, “their loyalty to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their zeal for the welfare of the nation of Israel drove them away from the crowd and into long periods of heaviness. "I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children," cried one and unwittingly spoke for all the rest.”

            I do not desire or think the support and encouragement afforded him (me) by society” has ever been worth the price. Just this past day I was remembering my first opportunity for fornication, she was a beautiful girl and sexy girl who was quite the aggressor, and how Christ in me made such a thing impossible. And so has it been with my life. Just as Tozer wrote, “No one is a friend to the man with a cross. "They all forsook Him, and fled." Long ago, I have given up on being understood. I am either a possessor of truth or a fool of deception – but I cannot be what I am not.

            Every time I hear the pledge of allegiance to the USA, see the American flag, here the Star Spangled Banner, here talk of patriotism – my thoughts are, "This world is not my home – I’m just passing through."

            It is a fact, “He finds few who care to talk about that which is the supreme object of his interest, so he is often silent and preoccupied in the midst of noisy religious shoptalk. For this he earns the reputation of being dull and overserious, so he is avoided and the gulf between him and society widens.” I hope it is because I am consumed with Christ, and near Him I know my wickedness.

            Because I am an introvert, I must have alone time. Obviously, Tozer was an extrovert.
            My issue is just the opposite of Tozer’s. I wish to be a secluded monk with my Bible and the Lord – but the Holy Ghost forbids such a selfish indulgence.
            Thanks for the reply Glen. I wanted to pray about your reply before I responded.

            While you may not be lonely, you have a wife and children to be with and fellowship with.

            The other thing that one should consider is what is meant by lonely. Lonely is an adverb having to do with being alone. I am definitely alone in the natural most of the time. That does not mean I am not content, for I am content. I am not filled with anxiety when I walk into my apartment knowing I will be here alone. I can remember before I gave my life to The Lord, when I walked into my home I had anxiety about being there alone. I would often go some place, even when I had no need to go anywhere for any other reason.

            I spend most of my time alone with The Lord. BUT I sometimes need to talk to someone with skin on about the Lord or life.

            Certainly many of the prophets were alone also:

            1 Kings 19 New International Version (NIV)

            Elijah Flees to Horeb


            19 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”

            3 Elijah was afraid[a] and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

            All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

            7 The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.

            The Lord Appears to Elijah


            And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

            10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

            11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

            Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shatteredthe rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

            Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

            14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

            15 The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram.16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”

            Certainly Elijah felt like he was the only one in all of Israel that followed the Lord. He felt alone. Why would he not feel this way ! The Lord preformed a mighty miracle through him by stopping the rain for close to three years and then with a mighty miracle, that all of Israel seen, it rained at the word of The Lord though Elijah.

            But where were the people of God who rose up to throw Jezebel out of Israel ? No wonder Elijah felt alone !

            Who was closer to the Lord than Elijah, but yet he felt he was alone at times.

            But we have a much better example of being alone than Elijah:

            Jesus was God Almighty, born of a woman to become a man. Did He ever feel alone ?

            I will try to answer that in the next post.

            Comment


            • #7
              Yes, I am grateful. Your points are well taken.
              Before . . . before all that I am - was given in service to the Lord I felt less - how? In commitment, in sacrifice, in fellowship, in obedience, in discipleship, and maybe loneliness, etc. The Lord blessed me by placing me in a ministry requiring all of my time and effort without any recognition. I officiated over a hundred funerals each year (always for those with out an affiliation with the church), spent forty to sixty hours a week in hospitals. I went to bed at 3 am and rose at 6 am 7 days a week. All this cured me of a need to give unto the Lord an acceptable sacrifice or commitment because my dedication and service did not provide a closer relationship to God. Besides this, there was infidelity in other ministers of the church. I coined the phrase during these days, "I know why God made Johnson grass. It is to hold onto to keep from falling off the world." I wasn't lonely. I was desperate to know God and to be a part of his people. Yet, I found myself in a waste land.

              Then enters politics. My denomination was under going a theological change from conservatism to fundamentalism. These were the days of the Jesus movement and many churches were becoming charismatic. At the county and state conventions the fundamentalist attempted to oust the charismatic congregations. Prominent pastors opposed to this but did not wish to get involved in the in fighting but encouraged me to do so. These pastors and my pastor were not charismatic but opposed severing fellowship over this issue. For two years I was the significant part of the charge to defeat the fundamentalist opposed to the charismatics. The third year they succeeded and once the fundamentalist were in power I was black balled. From that time they have increased their control of the denomination. My brother leaving foreign missions about 1992 was another fall out of this. For the longest time, my brother failed to realize my fall was was just the forecast of his. He still has difficulty in seeing that my opponents were the same as his - even if for different reasons.

              Back to the infidelity among the ministers of my congregation. When it became know by other ministers that I was aware of the issues, they wanted me excluded - no recommendations or support for fear of their own careers. What they never realized was that I would never speak against a brother ordained by God - it would be God's doing and not mine. Over all, their careers have been very successful in spite of the few years of infidelity. This is an enormous relief for me.

              Loneliness - the next twenty years were not lonely for I was at war with God. I had sacrificed all I had to Him - money, education, family, time, career, health and found myself spiritual destitute. After all of my efforts, commitment, and sacrifice I was back at the point where i begin, but never lonely but lost because I was in constant conflict . . but lost to have the fellowship with the Lord I desired. After all I went through, it took another twenty years for divine grace to crush me . . . crush me into an absolute surrender where I trusted Him regardless - a desperate trust.

              So, spare your time on defending Tozer's ideas of loneliness. While his examples apply to the cases he provides, they are not about my pilgrimage.

              Comment

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