[anzac] THE SAINT Must WALK ALONE - Tozer

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From: "REVIVAL List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2017 22:37:56 +1200
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').