I have often found myself on a plane heading somewhere and have discovered for myself that these are marvelous times to read out of the best books. Not only does it make the time go by quickly but it also usually ends up being uninterrupted time—the best time for reading, and something rather rare in our fast pace, calendar crammed world.
In late November, 2000, I was on a flight from Houston, Texas, headed for Cleveland, Ohio. It was mid afternoon, and with a couple of good hours ahead of me, I pulled out a beloved book, The Pursuit of God, by a beloved Christian writer, A. W. Tozer. I had recently started the book and found it to be loaded with wonderful gems. We were above the clouds and I felt the Spirit of God as I contemplated the beautifully communicated truths I read therein. Around 5:00 p.m. I came to the following:
“A spiritual kingdom lies all about us, enclosing us, embracing us, altogether within reach of our inner selves, waiting for us to recognize it. God Himself is here waiting….This eternal world will come alive to us the moment we begin to reckon upon its reality….
“Our trouble is that we have established bad thought habits. We habitually think of the visible world as real and doubt the reality of any other. We do not deny the existence of the spiritual world but [we do not treat it as real].
“The world of sense intrudes upon our attention day and night for the whole of our lifetime. It is clamorous [and] insistent….It does not appeal to our faith; it is here, assaulting our five senses, demanding to be accepted as real and final. But sin has so clouded the lenses of our hearts that we cannot see that other reality, the city of God, shining around us. The world of sense triumphs. The visible becomes the enemy of the invisible….That is the curse inherited by every member of Adam’s tragic race….
“Our uncorrected thinking…tends to draw a contrast between the spiritual and the real—but actually no such contrast exists….The spiritual is real….
“We must shift our interest from the seen to the unseen….
“The ‘other world,’ which is the object of this world’s disdain…is our carefully chosen goal and the object of our holiest longing.
“But we must avoid the common fault of pushing the ‘other world’ into the future. It is not future, but present. It parallels our familiar physical world, and the doors between the two worlds are open.”
At this point in my flight, I paused and looked out the window to reflect upon these things. The sun was low in the western sky, close to begin its setting beyond the blanket of clouds just below the plane. A radiant salmon colored hue highlighted the cloudy white layer. It was beautiful. As I continued to reflect, the plane began to descend into the opaque layer of clouds and the glorious view of the wonderfully lit sky slowly disappeared. As we descended further and came out of the clouds, it was a whole different feeling. Beneath the cloudy ceiling, the sky was gray and foreboding, the sun’s light obscured from view. Everything felt so gloomy below that powerfully opaque layer of clouds. What an object lesson! The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for such a visual aid! Within a matter of minutes I had been a traveler in both worlds: one glorious, peaceful and full of light; the other dark, foreboding and full of anything but light. Both worlds existed at the same time and yet both were completely separate from each other.
And so it is with that glorious spiritual world and our darkened world of touch, sound and sight. Why is it that hearing we hear, but do not understand?—and seeing we see, but do not perceive? Have our hearts grown lazy and our ears dull of hearing? Have we closed our eyes to that vibrant spiritual world?
Tozer continues with these words:
“The soul has eyes with which to see and ears with which to hear. Feeble they may be from long disuse, but by the life-giving touch of Christ they are…capable of [the] sharpest sight and most sensitive hearing.”
He then concludes the chapter with this prayer:
“O God….Open my eyes that I may see….Make heaven more real to me than any earthly thing has ever been.”
And I passionately add my “Amen!”
(See The Pursuit of God. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, Inc., 1993, pp. 48-54.)