August 25, 2009
By Rev. Ed Hird
One of my favorite authors is Dr. A.W. Tozer. I appreciate him because he stirs me to think, to feel, to hope, and to search. In this information age of ever-increasing data, Tozer gave us more than just more knowledge; he gave us wisdom to live by. He believed that the widest thing in the universe is not space: it is the potential of the human heart.
Tozer saw it as one of the world’s worst tragedies that we allow our hearts to shrink until there is room in them for little besides ourselves. There are times in my life when my heart has shrunk and hardened. Dr Tozer has been like a ‘heart surgeon’ to me, performing spiritual angioplasty when I have needed it the most. He has helped me keep my heart open and soft towards my family, my community, and my God.
Tozer’s final years of life were spent in Toronto. On May 12, 1963, he died of a heart attack at age 66. Some wonder why Tozer’s writings are as fresh today as when he was alive. It is because, as one friend commented, “He left the superficial, the obvious and the trivial for others to toss around. . . . His books reach deep into the heart.”
Tozer’s love for words also pervaded his family life. He quizzed his children on what they read and made up bedtime stories for them. “The thing I remember most about my father,” reflects his daughter Rebecca, “was those marvelous stories he would tell.”
His humor, written and spoken, has been compared to that of Will Rogers–honest and homespun. People could one moment be swept by gales of laughter and the next sit in a holy hush. Tozer believed that the essence of true religion is spontaneity.
Tozer held that one way society destroys people is by preventing them from thinking their own thoughts. As Canadians with our emphasis on accepting all views, we are particularly susceptible to being programmed by our media. Our ‘vastly improved methods of communication’ of which the shortsighted boast so loudly now enable a few people in strategic centers to feed into millions of minds alien thought-stuff, ready-made and pre-digested. A little effortless assimilation of these borrowed ideas and the average person has done all the thinking he will or can do. Tozer believed that the mind should be an eye to see with rather than a bin to store facts in. Every time I read Tozer, I feel like the fog has lifted from the tops of the North Shore forests, and I can see clearly again.
On the North Shore, there are many very successful people. Sometimes the most successful outwardly are the most wounded inwardly, especially in one’s primary relationships. “Not the educators nor the legislators nor the scientists can give us tranquillity of heart, and without tranquillity, whatever else they give us is useless at best.” Tozer commented that in this world people are rated by what they do. They are rated according to the distance they have come up the hill of achievement.
Tozer believed that excessive preoccupation with the struggle to win narrows the mind, hardens the heart, and blots out a thousand bright visions that might be enjoyed if there were only leisure to notice them. No one, said Tozer, is worthy to succeed unless he is willing to fail. Jesus died an apparent failure, discredited by the leaders of established religion, rejected by society, and forsaken by his friends. We can afford to follow Jesus to failure. Faith, says Tozer, dares to fail. Jesus’ resurrection is the ultimate reason why failure and crosses need not intimidate us.
One hundred and twelve years after his birth, Dr. A.W. Tozer still serves as a symbol of resurrected hope and wisdom in our fragmented age.
The Reverend Ed Hird
Rector, St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver
Anglican Mission in the Americas (Canada)
-author of the award-winning book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’
p.s. In order to obtain a copy of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD. This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.
-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide : Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada
You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide
-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier
August 25, 2009
By Rev Ed Hird
I enjoyed reading ‘Laugh Again’ by the best-selling author and radio communicator, Dr. Chuck Swindoll. He tells the story of a cute Peanuts cartoon where Lucy says to Snoopy: ‘There are times when you really bug me, but I must admit there are also times when I feel like giving you a big hug.’ Snoopy replies: ‘That’s the way I am…huggable and buggable.’
Chuck’s book gives practical tips on how to take ourselves less seriously, and how to fall more in love with life. Too many adults, says Chuck, have become so serious and overly responsible that they have lost one of God’s best gifts: a sense of humour.
Dr. Swindoll met a man who told Chuck of his need to work hard at being happier. He said that he had been reared in an ultraserious home. “We didn’t talk about our feelings…we worked…Funny thing…in my sixty-plus years I have achieved about everything I dreamed of doing and I have been awarded for it. My problem is that I don’t know how to have fun and enjoy these things hard work has brought me. I cannot remember the last time I laughed–I mean really laughed.”
As he turned to walk away, he dropped this ‘bomb’: “I suppose I now need to work harder at being happier.” Chuck reached over, took him by the arm, and said: “Trust me on this one- a happy heart is not achieved by hard work and long hours. If it were, the happiest people on earth would be the workaholics…and I have never met a workaholic whose sense of humour balanced out his intensity.”
Dr. Swindoll goes on to talk about the up-side and downside of our drive to achieve. Jokingly speaking of an ‘elite club’ High Achievers Anonymous, Chuck spoke compassionately about the high cost that our work addictions play in our primary relationships. The tragedy is, enough is never enough. Life becomes reduced to work, tasks, effort, an endless list of shoulds and musts…minus the necessary fun and laughter that keeps everything in perspective. Chuck says that there is always one telltale sign when pride takes charge of our life: the fun leaves.