The last few weeks, I have been reading Lyle Dorsett’s new biography of A.W. Tozer, entitled, A Passion for God. The subtitle is: "The Spiritual Journey of A.W. Tozer." I read the book because I have read a number of Tozer’s books but knew little about his life.
I like what Erwin Lutzer says regarding this book:
"…I found myself absorbed with this realistic biography of A. W. Tozer, a man whose writings have blessed all of us. In these pages we are invited to walk with a man who passionately pursued God but at the same time had obvious faults, particularly in his relationship with his family. Tozer’s life also introduces us to the various battles that the church was fighting in the forties and fifties, and how evangelicals responded to them. This book encourages us by reminding us that god uses imperfect but God-focused people to bless His church and strengthen the saints…"
I came away from the book admiring so much about Tozer:
1. "Those close to him explained that despite his busy schedule, the modern-day prophet spent several hours each day in prayer–not simply interceding but ardently seeking God’s face and desiring to be in his presence." (p. 16)
2. "…he became magnificently obsessive about the shaping of the soul into Christlikeness." (p. 21)
3. "…Tozer also endeared students to himself because of his transparency. He admitted that he was a flawed man and was not reluctant to mention his own shortcomings." (p. 103)
4. "Tozer spent incalculable hours in prayer. Most of his prolonged prayer time–along with his Bible and hymnals as his only companions–took place in his church office on the back side of the second floor." (p. 121)
5. "Like his preaching, Tozer’s prayers were honest, frank, humorous, and intense. ‘His preaching was affected by his praying.’ Indeed, ‘preaching was a declaration of what he had learned in prayer."’
Yet, there was a sad aspect to Tozer’s life as well. While his wife deeply loved him and his children admired and respected him, there seemed to be a distance between himself and his family. This distance was limited, by any means to his family. In fact, early in the book, Dorsett says that in the 1950’s Tozer confided to a friend, "I’ve lived a lonely life." (p. 16).
"But what an irony that Mr. Tozer lived a lonely life. He had a devoted wife and lovely children, all of whom would have treasured more personal intimacy. And among those throngs of listeners to his sermons, and many of the faithful members of the four churches he pastored, many would have stood in long lines for hours just to have a few minutes of personal time and intimate two-way sharing with the man who helped them know God but refused to let them know him." (pp. 16-17)
As I read Lyle Dorsett’s book, A Passion for God, and as I saw the life of this complex man unfold, I realized again that this is such a picture of our humanity. Even at our best, we remain imperfect, flawed human beings. I am thankful that for a few days, in reading this book, I had the opportunity to come to know Tozer and to appreciate so much about his life.
And—I was reminded again: Thank God for his grace.