With the veil removed by the rending of Jesus' flesh, with nothing on God's side to prevent us from entering, why do we tarry without? Why do we consent to abide all our days just outside the Holy of Holies and never enter at all to look upon God?
The answer usually given, simply that we are "cold," will not explain all the facts. There is something more serious than coldness of heart... What is it? What but the presence of a veil in our hearts? A veil not taken away as the first veil was, but which remains there still shutting out the light and hiding the face of God from us. It is the veil of our fleshly fallen nature living on, unjudged within us, uncrucified and unrepudiated. It is the close woven veil of the self-life which we have never truly acknowledged...
Let us remember: when we talk of the rending of the veil, we are speaking in a figure, and the thought of it is poetical, almost pleasant; but in actuality there is nothing pleasant about it. In human experience, that veil is made of living spiritual tissue; it is composed of the sentient, quivering stuff of which our whole beings consist, and to touch it is to touch us where we feel pain. To tear it away is to injure us, to hurt us and to make us bleed. To say otherwise is to make the cross no cross and death no death at all. It is never fun to die. To rip through the dear and tender stuff of which life is made can never be anything but deeply painful, yet that is what the cross did to Jesus and it is what the cross would do to every man to set him free. AW Tozer, The Pursuit of GodI've been teaching long enough that the first day of school doesn't particularly make me nervous. What does fill me with a peculiar sense of dread though is knowing I'm being launched from a season of rest into a season of intense activity. The overwhelming temptation of my busy days is to grow content living just outside the presence of God, allowing my fallen nature to live on uncrucified and unrepudiated, to not even be aware of my change in location. Consider this thought from David Rousset, concerning the treatment of the Jews by the Nazis as quoted in Eichmann in Jerusalem by Hannah Arendt:
The triumph of the S.S. demands that the tortured victim allow himself to be led to the noose without protesting, that he renounce and abandon himself to the point of ceasing to affirm his identity. And it is not for nothing. It is not gratuitously, out of sheer sadism, that the S.S. men desire his defeat. They know that the system which succeeds in destroying its victim before he mounts the scaffold...is incomparably the best for keeping the whole person in slavery...The system that succeeds in destroying its victim before he mounts the scaffold...is incomparably the best for keeping the whole person in slavery. Wow. What a perfect description of sin's deceitfulness, of it's desire to destroy me with my consent and by my own hand without the slightest bit of protesting. It's also a perfect picture of how I live outside the veil, outside the sanctifying presence of God. When I stare down the school calendar at the year ahead, what makes me nervous is my overwhelming capacity for self-deception and self-destruction. And the solution has nothing to do with developing better balance, more sophisticated systems, or just saying "no" more often. The solution is to live inside the veil, but to do so as Tozer describes is deeply painful. read this again:
To rip through the dear and tender stuff of which life is made can never be anything but deeply painful, yet that is what the cross did to Jesus and it is what the cross would do to every man to set him free.I have approached that veil in prayer this past week, intentionally seeking the sanctifying presence of God, and often I have wanted to step back outside and ignore him. Sanctification is painful, it is after all a death, but here's to praying God keeps me on the path, despite that ball of chaos hovering just over my head.
Madeline L'Engle, The Weather of the Heart