Following Hard After God
My soul clings to you, your right hand upholds me.(Psalm 63:8)
Christian theology teaches the doctrine of prevenient grace, which briefly stated means this, that before a man can seek God, God must first have sought the man.
Before a sinful man can think a right thought of God, there must have been a work of enlightenment done within him; imperfect it may be, but a true work nonetheless, and the secret cause of all desiring and seeking and praying which may follow.
We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit. “No man can come to me”, said our Lord, “except the Father which hath sent me draw him”.(John 6:44), and it is by this very prevenient drawing that God takes from us every vestige of credit for the act of coming. The impulse o pursue a God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him; and all the time we are pursuing Him we are already in His hand: “Thy right hand upholders me.(Psalm 63:8) In this divine upholding and human following there is no contradiction. All is of God, for as Baron von Hugel teaches, Tod is always previous. In practice, however,(that is, where God’s previous working meets man’s present response) man must pursue God. On our part there must be positive reciprocation if this secret drawing of God is to evaluate the identifiable experience of the Divine. In the warm language of personal feeling this is stated in the 42nd Psalm: “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” This is the deep calling unto deep, and longing heart will understand it.
Writes A.W. Tozer
Ephesians tells us that we are saved by grace and that grace comes through faith that is a gift from God. Our salvation is the gift to us from God. We don’t deserve it. We can’t earn it. We have no means to pay for it. The closest thing to describe the outcome of our responding to this God-given grace to believe and receive this salvation is what happens in the relationship of marriage. Something moves us to pursue that someone. We call that “failing in love”. But that initial encounter is not the end in itself. It’s the beginning. In the same way salvation is not the end but the beginning of a relationship between God and us. Initially it is God who is pursuing us and we respond. But as in marriage there are seasons when the pursued becomes the pursuer and the pursuer becomes pursued. No one wants to be in a relationship in which they are always the pursuer. What we desire is that after pursuing, the person pursued becomes so enamored with the pursuer that they become the pursuer. The Song of Solomon tell this process. It begins by describing a beautiful woman pursued by her lover. It moves from there to the woman pursuing the man. In the end, they are both the pursued and the pursuer. The Song of Solomon tells us they run together. We get the picture of two in a meadow chasing and being caught by each other. This is what a living relationship with God looks like. Though we are held by God, we still chase Him. Though God holds us in His hand, He still pursues us. There is no end of the chase. God won’t stop chasing us. Will we stop chasing Him? Have you had enough encounters or experiences with God so that like the couple who have lost interest, you no longer chase Him? I close with this. The Bible says that no eye has seen or ear heard what God has in store for us. So what do you have in store for God?
Dr. John Thompson