Excerpts from "The Saint Must Walk Alone" by A.W. Tozer
Posted: 2009-01-26 17:12:55
Preface by David Nelson to the following article by A.W. Tozer
I do not believe that this article is trying to teach that each one of us must walk alone without being connected to the Body of Christ. But what I believe it is trying to convey is that each one of us must bear his own cross which is unique to each individual and that each one of us must hear for himself and follow the Lord’s leading. This “aloneness” that we will feel is important for each of us to focus on the Lord supremely and never let anything or anyone come between us and our relationship with the Lord. We will need others and the gifts of the Body of Christ to come to our fullest potential as we listen to the Lord through others.
Excerpts from “The Saint Must Walk Alone” by A.W. Tozer
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
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
My own comment (David Nelson): We even, who have heard His call to come closer (to the Lord) may be feeling a bit overwhelmed by the worldliness all around us. It is on the TV, it is in our work places, it is in the Church. The Lord Jesus said, when He comes will He find faith on the earth? If it were possible even the elect would be deceived by so much that will happen upon the earth so that the days will be shortened by the Lord. Here is my only hope, II Timothy 4:17, 18 says, “The Lord has stood with me (when many others forsook me), and He has strengthened me. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” And Jude 24,25 says, “Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless (and blameless) before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God and Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”
Let us continue in hope, faith, and love, looking to Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith. We will need each other and the Lord as our Shepherd and Keeper.