Why “Following Hard”?

I love Psalm 63! No, let me correct that. I love, love, love Psalm 63! It has been dear to me for many years. It dates back to my late twenties when I was transformed from being a dutiful, serving Christian to one who fell head over heels for an intimate, personal Lord who overwhelmed me with Himself.

I grew up in the church, and I knew of the expectations of church attendance and serving. I was only 9 when I recognized the call of the Gospel. I repented of my sins and accepted the free gift of grace from Jesus, as He had paid for my sin debt. I faithfully attended church regularly and learned to serve the body of Christ dutifully.  Sometimes excessively. Isn’t that what He deserved? I admit it was hard at times. But I thought the more I served , the more I loved Him and showed Him my love. And inevitably , burnout began to set in.

I will admit that through most of my life up until that time, I had not heard much about any other expectations of a personal relationship with Jesus except “salvation”. And then I met Henry Blackaby through his Bible study of “Experiencing God”, and learned about God’s priority of His love relationship with me. With ME?! I had not understood that my relationship with Him was more important than my serving Him. Obviously the words (Matt.22:34-40) of Jesus Himself on this matter had been lost on me! I , like so many others, had worked myself weary while neglecting what mattered most.

It was at this time that I began to focus in a different direction. I shifted my time from serving to sitting. I began to take more and more Bible studies and what I learned astounded me. I could have a deep, intimate , thriving relationship with my Savior. The more I studied God’s Word, the more my love grew for Him. You have to know that at this same time, I was praying for a passion for God and His Word and boy did He deliver! I grew and grew in my desire for more of Him and I could not get enough of His Word!

Then I found Psalm 63 and it seemed King David knew EXACTLY how I felt. I was experiencing more and more of God in my life, but all it did was whet my hunger and thirst for more! More of this all-consuming love and intimacy I found in Him. King David described it in almost a tangible way with his pen and it culminated in verse 8. I particularly favor the King James translation of this particular verse as it reads ” My soul follows hard after Thee”. This concept of “following hard” was not at all what I had experienced before ,which left me exhausted and burned out. This “following hard” was a delight and energizing to do. It involved me spending time with Him as I read my Bible and prayed. I began to incorporate listening to sermons on the radio and worship music throughout my day as well. It was like fertilizer to my soul as I feasted on this interaction between God and myself. Distractions inevitably arose but that was where I learned from Mary (Luke 10:38-42) and chose what was better. I will admit my “choosing” became creative at times because of varying responsibilities of a home and family, ministry , and then a career in later years.

I am not saying everyday is perfect, and ordered in my priorities, but the norm by far is that I start my day with Him, and that leaves little to chance for interruptions. I am not a legalist. I am in love. And oh my word, what a difference that makes in my life! I say this as naturally a “night person”,  so it does not come instinctivly to me to rise before my obligations begin. But once I felt the difference in my heart and life from “following hard” after Him, I was addicted and it became my delight to rise early. I continue to follow hard after Jesus throughout my day ,as I listen and meditate to worship music as I drive to and from work ,or while doing errands ,or working at home. I have found that I am ALWAYS better off from my efforts to “set the Lord before me” as King David described so well in Psalm 16:8.

All this to say that this blog is a part of my following hard after Him, as much as any other time I am meditating on His Wonder.  As someone who does not involve myself in social media readily, I am very willing and delighted to testify of the fruit in faith, when following hard after God becomes it’s own reward, and a way of life lived abundantly!

To His Glory and Grace,

Gretchen

2 thoughts on “Why “Following Hard”?

  1. Oh, Gretchen, how I rejoice with you! Experiencing God by Blackaby was a benchmark in my walk with God also.Hurray and thanks for sharing and encouraging!

    Like

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