“Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph” (Exod. 1:8). Too bad. Tragic, in fact. Seems a shame Joseph had to die at the young age of 110(!), before he had a chance to impact the new king. What a difference that encounter might have made in the lives of the Hebrews, who were now reduced to the monotony of mixing mortar and making bricks.
Seems like some people die too soon. About the time you realize just how valuable their contribution is, it’s too late. They’re gone.
As a preacher, I think about this a lot. I think about how helpful it would be if some of the men who preached and wrote so well could have lived another twenty, maybe thirty years. Men like A. W. Tozer.
Aiden Wilson Tozer died the year I began studying for the ministry (1959). He had spent thirty-one years pastoring the unobtrusive Southside Alliance Church in Chicago. During his ministry, which included both the spoken and the written word, that intense, provocative little man functioned as the conscience of evangelicalism. Yet I never once heard him in person. Nor did most of my contemporary ministerial colleagues.
“To listen to Tozer preach was as safe as opening the door of a blast furnace!” says Warren Wiersbe, aptly describing the man’s style.
I suppose I have ten or more of Tozer’s tough-minded volumes that dare me to drift off course. I don’t always agree with him, but he never fails to stimulate my thinking and challenge my way. Mystical and picky though he may have been, the man asked the right questions: Is God real to you? Is your Christianity a set of definitions? Or is it a vital relationship with Christ? Do you genuinely hunger after God?
With daring dogmatism, the man didn’t stop with casual investigation. He assaulted with insightful and relentless determination. And it didn’t take him a hundred pages to get to the point—something most of us would do well to remember.
Now a new generation of pastors has arisen over the church who did not know Tozer . . . or Moody . . . or Meyer . . . or . . . . Seems such a shame.
The truth of the matter is, God shares His prophets briefly. Often, only when it is too late, do we realize how much more time we wish we had spent at their feet.
There’s nothing like the old to help us see all things new.