Even though I grew up in ski country, I have only been skiing once. Not only was I not very good, but during one of my many falls I dislocated my thumb. That may not sound like a big deal but it still affects me from time to time nearly twenty years later. When I played summer-league softball in college, every hit shot pain up through my arm as the impact of ball on bat pushed back just enough on the joint of my thumb. While playing a game of pickup basketball after I graduated, I went to the ground after a loose ball and couldn’t put weight on my hand to push myself back up. These days when I do yard work, I have to take breaks from shoveling or hacking away at wood because that tender area between my thumb and my hand hurts just too much.
That thought stuck in my mind as I read chapter VIII of A.W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God, “Restoring the Creator-creature Relation”. Right at the beginning of the chapter Tozer writes, “the cause of all our human miseries is a radical moral dislocation, and upset in our relation to God and to each other.” (pg 70) Dislocation. The word made it so clear, so obvious. And subconsciously caused my thumb to ache.
God designed the perfect relationship: tending to the Garden of Eden together with his creation. But ever since The Fall, mankind has been dislocated from that perfect alignment. Just as my thumb hurts when conditions are just right, discomforts in this world remind us of our fallen state. The common question is why does God allow bad things to happen? The answer, based on this observation, is to remind us of our condition.
I can put my hand in a brace, isolate it from movement, take pain killers to dull aches and pains, or even just keep my hand in my pocket and never take it out, but none of those things change the fact that it is forever injured. In the same way we can dress ourselves up with religion, practice all the spiritual disciplines, lock ourselves away in a monastery to guard us from the world, but those are just physical means to medicate a spiritual injury. So long as we are in this world, our flesh will oppose a right relationship with God. So long as we are exposed to this world and its ideals, our mind cannot fully comprehend our position with God. But our hearts, guided by the Holy Spirit by the grace of Jesus Christ can desire to be adjoined with our Creator. And that is enough to bring comfort to our terminal injury.
This blog is part of a book club reading The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. Please join the discussion here and at our hosts, Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter. Need a copy of the book? You can get it for free on Kindle.