Rest for a Restless Heart (Tozer Commentary, Part 1)
Following is an excerpt of commentary on A.W. Tozer’s classic book The Pursuit of God (chapter 3: “Removing the Veil”). This is the first part of a three-part series.
“You have made us for Yourself and our hearts are restless until they find rest in You.” (St. Augustine)
In his classic book The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer begins one of the chapters1 , with this great Augustinian phrase, from his autobiographical masterpiece, Confessions. It is a sweeping statement about the origin and history of the human race, both of which are anchored in God himself. God is not only the cause of our creation, but he is the purpose of our existence. Via this summary, we not only come to understand the fact of our restless hearts, but we learn why they are so persistently restless and we a restless people.
Apart from God, we thrash about desperately trying to cobble together a sense of identity and purpose, struggling to find our place of belonging in this world. We know not who we are, or whose we are, or who we are destined to become. And it is only upon returning to the One who brought forth our hearts from nothing, that we end our grinding search and find rest in the Living God who is both the beginning and the end of our journey. Only in him do we find our identity, our purpose, and our destiny.
“So the life of man upon the earth is a life away from the Presence, wrenched loose from that ‘blissful center’ which is our right and proper dwelling place, our first estate which we kept not, the loss of which is the cause of our unceasing restlessness. The whole work of God in redemption is to undo the tragic effects of that foul revolt, and to bring us back again into right and eternal relationship with Himself.” —Tozer2
Enjoying Him Forever
Many of the ancient questions regarding the what and why of our spiritual lives are beautifully answered in the Westminster Shorter Catechism:
Question: What is the chief end of Man?
Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.3
In my opinion, John Piper says it even better:
The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.4 —Piper
Why is it better? Because, the way one glorifies God is by making him the profound source of one’s deepest pleasure. In short, we are called to what Tozer called, “the sweet and mysterious mingling of kindred personalities.”5 Those who enter into such a wondrous relationship find the joy of interdependence and avoid the twin extremes of codependence and independence, both destructive to personhood.
Codependence is the sickness of having oneself absorbed into that of another, with the accompanying loss of individuality.
Independence is the disease of being so self-absorbed that one creates an illusory world in which there is no room for another, with the accompanying loss of community.
Interdependence is the healthy path between the extremes where the individual person is honored as a unique creation of Christ, and where the community of persons is celebrated as the unified body of Christ. Here we find a mutuality of trust and love, and a place from which one can most closely mirror the intimate relationship between the three persons of the Trinity—three unique Persons, all unified in one God.
It’s here, in the presence of the triune God, that God does the work of redemption: “undo[ing] the tragic effects of that foul revolt, and . . . bring[ing] us back again into right and eternal relationship with Himself.”6
If you’ve experienced the restlessness of which Augustine and Tozer wrote, take heart! God knows your deepest longings, and promises to draw near to those who draw near to him (James 4:8). One day, those longings will be completely filled.
3. Question 1 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, available at https://www.shortercatechism.com/resources/wsc/wsc_001.html