Of late, my posts here have been about the situation I’m in personally and what that’s meaning for my life. I’ll almost certainly keep blogging in that way, but it’s not all this blog will be. It’s not all my life is, so it won’t be all this blog is. Today, I’m writing about something totally different.
I want to write about a book I’ve just started, and about its author.
(First, some disclaimers. I have not been asked to write this post. I have not been asked to publicise this book. I get no commission on this book. My church makes no money from this book. I am not part of an Amazon affiliate scheme, so I don’t get paid a penny if you click a link and buy the book. I write this because I want to!)
I want to be a God Gazer
The book is called I want to be a God Gazer: Yearning for Intimacy with the Saviour, and it is by my senior pastor, Malcolm Duncan. It is based on a poem Malcolm wrote five years ago for a conference (the recording of which is at the end of this post).
The poem expresses a heart of yearning for intimacy with God, a deeper understanding and revelation of who God is, encounter with Him, longing after Him, and in finding Him being so transformed that we will change this world and give life to its people.
Malcolm’s book (which is available for pre-order here or can be bought through Gold Hill now) explores those themes, taking stanzas from the poem and exploring their themes, helping us to become God gazers, world changers and life givers.
I’ve not read the whole thing yet, but I heartily recommend it.
My journey with God gazing
The poem on which the book is based has been important for me in my journey. Three years ago, I had not heard of it, of Malcolm, or of the church I now work for as a pastor. I saw an advert for an internship at this church, and was vaguely interested, so started doing some research. That was the first time I heard the name Malcolm Duncan.
Since then, I’ve got to know him, and it’s been an honour to relate to him as pastor, leader, colleague and friend. But at the time, Malcolm Duncan was just a name of some guy I’d not met.
There were two big things that made me really want to come to Gold Hill and serve here, and both of them were to do with Malcolm’s ministry. One was a sermon series he preached on the book of Haggai which was very significant for me for a variety of personal reasons.
And the other is this poem, God Gazer.
I saw the clip below of Malcolm reading it, and it caught something in my spirit, it captured me, it said so many things I had been feeling but didn’t have words for. It stirred something deep within me. As I listened, I welled up. I heard in his voice a deep yearning to know God more deeply, to be fashioned by Him more fully and to boldly and radically serve and change this world in His power. I’ve had the same reaction every time I’ve heard it or read it since. I had the same reaction this morning as I read it again.
I wanted to be a God gazer too.
Of course Malcolm is just one person and he wouldn’t want me to put him up on a pedestal. But his heart – which is so evident in this poem, and so also in this book – was something I wanted to learn from. I still do, and I hope I am.
God-gazing, or not?
So that’s why I’m excited for this book. Because I do want to be increasingly gazing at God, seeking His face, finding Him. At present there are days when God is so easy to see, especially in the faces of people who are such support. But there are also days when it seems I can’t see Him at all.
Sometimes that’s because darkness seems to obscure Him, but more often I think it’s because I’m not very good at God gazing. I just get on with life and don’t stop to seek Him in it. But deep down I know what I think we all know: there is more to life than this, than just getting by. And when I’m not pursuing that, finding that, living in that, it doesn’t satisfy. Some words that moved and challenged me from the introduction to the book:
We immerse ourselves in the humdrum rhythm of daily living in the vain hope that the beat of existing will drown out the rhythm of living, but it never does because it never can.
God gazing is a choice and a way of life, and one which I look forward to cultivating more fully through the words of my friend.